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China holds live-fire drills in Taiwan Strait

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Chinese President Xi Jinping delivers a speech as he reviews a military display of Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy in the South China Sea. Reuters

Beijing (AFP) – China held live-fire drills in the Taiwan Strait yesterday but Taipei dismissed the exercises as “routine” after expected large-scale naval manoeuvres failed to materialise.

Beijing had announced the drills last week, further ramping up tensions against the self-ruled island which China sees as its sovereign territory.

Vessels had been told to avoid a certain area off the Chinese mainland’s coast, triggering speculation that a flotilla spearheaded by China’s sole aircraft carrier would take part in the exercise.

But Taiwan’s defence ministry said yesterday that the drills only involved land-based artillery. “China deliberately released fake information to exaggerate it, to make it sound huge when in fact it’s small,” Taiwanese defence ministry spokesman Chen Chung-chi said.

The drills coincided with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen’s visit to Swaziland, one of Taipei’s few remaining international allies.

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