Taiwan's defense minister warned Tuesday of growing threats from China after a group of warships led by China's first aircraft carrier sailed south of the island nation in the South China Sea during routine military exercises.
The exercises were conducted on Monday, more than three weeks after President-elect Donald Trump accepted an unusual telephone call from Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, prompting a diplomatic protest from China.
Because of Trump's actions, political observers in Taiwan believe China is increasing pressure on the island nation, which China claims as its territory, even though the two countries have been ruled separately since the end of a civil war in 1949.
"I would like to remind everyone that the threat of our enemy is growing day by day," said Taiwan Defense Minister Feng Shih-kuan on Tuesday during a speech at a military event. "We need to strenghten the training (of our soldiers) so that they can not only survive in battle but also destroy the enemy and accomplish the mission," he said.
On Monday, Chinese naval ships sailed about 167 kilometers from the coast of Taiwan. It was the latest in a series of recent Chinese military exercises, including a Chinese bomber capable of carrying nuclear weapons that flew near the edge of Taiwanese territory.
Tensions between Taiwan and China have risen sharply since Tsai's presidential victory in January. China has severed official communication with Tsai's government, which has insisted that it maintain its independence and reduce its economic dependence on China.