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Taiwan prez vows to defend country; inaugurates warships

Kaohsiung (Taiwan): Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen vowed on Thursday that the island would not “concede one step” in defending itself as she inaugurated two frigates bought from the United States aimed at boosting Taipei’s naval capabilities against China.
Rival China has upped military drills including a live fire exercise in the Taiwan Strait in April, declaring its willingness to confront the island’s “independence forces”.
Beijing still claims self-ruled Taiwan as part of its territory awaiting reunification, by force if necessary, even though the two sides have been ruled separately since 1949 after a civil war. China has also been incensed by recent warming ties between Washington and Taipei, including the US State Department’s approval of a preliminary licence to sell submarine technology to the island.
The two Perry-class guided missile frigates were officially commissioned in a ceremony at Zuoying base in southern Kaohsiung city. “We want to send a clear and firm message from Taiwanese people to the international community that we will not concede one step in defending… Taiwan and protecting our free and democratic way of life,” Tsai said after inspecting the ships.
China’s “military actions in the region not only attempt to weaken Taiwan’s sovereignty but will also damage regional peace and stability,” Tsai warned.
She vowed to continue enhancing the navy’s capabilities as part of the military’s goal to maintain what it calls “solid defence and multi-layered deterrence” to guard the island.
Navy chief of staff Vice Admiral Lee Chung-hsiao had said previously the warships’ anti-submarine capabilities are more advanced than the island’s existing eight Cheng Kung-class frigates and could have “deterrent effects” against China’s submarines. (AFP)

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