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Taiwan to hold large-scale military drills aimed at deterring China

WATCH ABOVE: Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen called on Saturday for international support to defend the self-ruled island's democracy and way of life in the face of renewed threats from China.

Taiwan’s military on Wednesday announced a series of newly designed large-scale military drills for this year aimed at countering China’s renewed threat to use force to gain control over the island.

While Taiwan’s armed forces regularly hold such exercises, this year’s drills are “being drafted based on newly adopted tactics for defending against a possible Chinese invasion,” the official Central News Agency quoted Defense Ministry planning chief Maj. Gen. Yeh Kuo-hui as saying.

READ MORE: China’s Xi vows to bring Taiwan under Beijing’s control through ‘all necessary measures’

China claims sovereignty over the self-governing island democracy, which split from the mainland amid civil war in 1949.

WATCH BELOW: Analyst says Taiwan might be the geopolitical ‘sleeper issue’ of 2019

Taiwan geopolitical sleeper issue of 2019: security analyst
Taiwan geopolitical sleeper issue of 2019: security analyst

Chinese President Xi Jinping renewed the threat of force in his Jan. 2 message to the island, saying China reserved that right if necessary to counter interference by external forces and what he called an extremely small number of Taiwanese separatists.

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Although Xi didn’t mention the U.S. by name, Washington is a key supplier of weaponry to the island and is legally bound to respond to threats against Taiwan.

WATCH BELOW: China’s Xi threatens Taiwan with force but also seeks peaceful ‘reunification’

China’s Xi threatens Taiwan with force but also seeks peaceful ‘reunification’
China’s Xi threatens Taiwan with force but also seeks peaceful ‘reunification’

With its 3 million-member armed forces and the world’s second largest defence budget of $173 billion, China has the overwhelming military edge over Taiwan. Xi has been ratcheting up the military threat to put pressure on independence-leaning Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen.

Tsai responded to Xi’s speech by rejecting demands for unification between the sides, saying, “China must face the fact of the existence of Taiwan.”

WATCH BELOW: Taiwan’s president defiant after Xi’s speech

Taiwan president defiant after China’s vow for reunification
Taiwan president defiant after China’s vow for reunification

Taiwan wields a much smaller by technologically sophisticated force that would be relied on to hold off a Chinese assault until outside help arrives.

In recent years, Taiwan’s strategy has evolved from defeating a Chinese landing force to repelling an invasion on sea and in the air.

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