China Air Force again circles Taiwan in 'sacred mission'

Tsai Ing-wen from the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party is the current President of Taiwan after winning a presidential election on the island in 2016

Taiwan's Defence Ministry said on Wednesday that the drills only involved land-based artillery conducting "routine" shooting drills.

Taiwan, claimed by Beijing as Chinese territory, is one of China's most sensitive issues and a potential military flashpoint.

In recent years, China has conducted dozens of military exercises as a warning to Taiwan over increasing efforts from independence leaders to declare full independence from China.

"The motherland is in our hearts, and the jewelled island is in the bosom of the motherland", an H-6K captain, Zhai Peisong, was quoted as saying in the statement, using another name for Taiwan.

The maritime safety authority of Fujian, the province directly opposite Taiwan, had posted a notice announcing a military exercise over Taiwan Strait six days before the drills.

Chinese naval forces have passed through waters south of Taiwan and carried out military exercises in the western Pacific, the latest in a series of military drills that Taiwan has called "intimidation".

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China sees democratically-governed Taiwan as a renegade part of its territory to be brought back into the fold and has not ruled out reunification by force.

Last week's announcement of the drill coincided with President Xi Jinping's attendance at what was the largest fleet review since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949. "We must strengthen through reform and technology and promote modernisation, to increase combat capacity and readiness", he said.

"A powerful nation must have comparable forces capable of safeguarding its sovereignty and security", says the video's narrator in Hokkien, a language that remains closely tied to Taiwan's pro-independence movement.

Despite having considerable independence from China in that Taiwan has its own democratically elected government and state infrastructure, growing calls for full independence have angered authorities in Beijing, who claim the island is part of China's territory and viewing it exclusively as a breakaway province that will soon come back under their control.

Taiwan is well equipped with mostly USA weapons and is pressing for more advanced equipment to deal with what it sees as rising threat from China.

Chinese officials have denounced the recent passage of a US law encouraging more high-level government contacts with Taiwan, saying that violates USA commitments not to restore formal exchanges severed when Washington switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979.

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