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Taiwan Unveils New Naval Warship as China Encroaches on Island’s Air Defense Zone

Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen, center, walks to take part in a launch ceremony for its first indigenous amphibious transport dock in Kaohsiung, southern Taiwan, April 13, 2021.

Taiwan formally introduced a new naval warship Tuesday as China’s military increases its presence near the self-ruled island.

President Tsai Ing-wen was on hand in the southern port city of Kaohsiung for the launching of the new 10,000-ton amphibious transport ship, the first from Taiwan’s new domestic naval shipbuilding program.

President Tsai said the new vessel represented a “milestone” for the program, and that it will bolster Taiwan’s national defense.

Earlier Monday, Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said 25 Chinese warplanes entered the island’s air defense zone along its southern border, including 15 fighter jets, four bombers, two anti-submarine warfare planes and an airborne early warning plane.

Beijing considers the island as part of its territory even though it has been self-governing since the end of China’s civil war in 1949, when Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalist forces were driven off the mainland by Mao Zedong’s Communists. China has vowed to bring the island under its control by any means necessary, including a military takeover.

Washington officially switched formal diplomatic relations from Taipei to Beijing in 1979, but the Trump administration angered China as it increasingly embraced Taiwan both diplomatically and militarily after taking office in 2017 and throughout its four-year tenure.