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On eve of Taiwan elections, PLA warns it will take ‘all necessary measures’ to ‘crush’ separatism

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“Full combat readiness, vigorous training, [Taiwan’s armed forces] are the guardians of national security and the defenders of freedom and democracy!” the post said.

Who is running in Taiwan’s presidential race and what does it mean for Beijing?

Taiwan will hold its presidential and legislative elections on Saturday. William Lai Ching-te, vice-president and candidate of the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party, is leading the race.

He is trailed by his two opponents – New Taipei City mayor Hou Yu-ih, from the Beijing-friendly Kuomintang, and Ko Wen-je, a former Taipei mayor from the Taiwan People’s Party.

Beijing sees Taiwan as part of China to be reunited by force if necessary. Most countries, including the US, do not recognise Taiwan as an independent state, but the US opposes any attempt to take the self-governed island by force and is committed to supplying it with arms.

The PLA has conducted more war games near the island in recent years, and air patrols by its air force have intensified.

Meanwhile, Taiwan’s air force has reportedly completed the upgrade of its 140 US-made F-16V fighter jets in service, with plans to buy another 66 jets by the year 2026.

In Beijing on Friday, Zhang denounced the F-16V deals as “wasting the Taiwanese people’s hard-earned money”, saying they were done out of the ruling DPP’s “selfish interests”.

“[Buying US weapons] will not be able to stop the momentum of China’s complete reunification but will only push Taiwan into the perilous situation of a dangerous war,” he said.

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Beijing has previously stepped up military exercises ahead of elections in Taiwan, most notably in 1996, when the PLA conducted large-scale firing of missiles near the island and the US sent two aircraft carriers to the region.

Beijing sees the DPP as promoting independence for the island and has described Lai and his running mate Hsiao Bi-khim as “splittists” who are determined to turn Taiwan into an independent country.

The elections will be closely watched, with observers warning that the results could lead to greater tensions across the Taiwan Strait and test recent improvements in US-China ties.

Beijing has repeatedly warned Washington not to send the “wrong signals” to Taipei, describing Taiwan as the “core of core interests” in China-US relations.

Why does Taiwan matter so much to both mainland China and the US?

Also on Friday, Zhang announced that the PLA had started its 2024 exercises and training, focusing on improving basic skills, simulated combat, joint force collaboration and hi-tech applications so it could “forge a powerful force that could reassure the [Communist] Party and the people of their needs”.

The PLA also upgraded its operational procedures for logistics and transport with a newly issued regulation signed by President Xi Jinping.

Zhang said the regulation – which took effect from January 1 – incorporated experience gained from disaster rescue, pandemic control, drills and exercises, as well as overseas military deployment, to “provide strong support to improve the PLA’s transport delivery capacity, quality and efficiency”.

Article was originally published from here

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