Taiwan conducts missile exercises

Taiwan has conducted an air defense test, deploying US-made Patriot missiles and anti-aircraft artillery systems, saying it will step up training in the face of Chinese military "encroachments" around the self-ruled island, AFP reported.

Chinese warplanes and ships circle the island almost daily as Beijing steps up its military pressure on Taipei, using what experts say are "gray zone" actions - tactics that do not amount to open military action.

Taiwan's Air Force Command said it conducted a drill between 5am and 7am (9pm and 11pm GMT) involving island-made Sky Bow surface-to-air missiles and US-based Patriot ", as well as army and navy units.

"The objective was to test the command and control of joint air defense operations between the three types of armed forces," it said, adding that the exercise had gone smoothly.

"Given the frequent incursions of PLA aircraft and ships into the airspace and waters around Taiwan, the Air Force will continue to increase the intensity of training to respond to potential threats."

Taiwan rejects Beijing's claims to it, and its elected president - current Vice President Lai Ching-te, who won the country's election in January - is considered by China to be a "dangerous separatist".

Last week, Taiwan intercepted 36 Chinese military aircraft around the island within 24 hours, the highest number of aircraft in a single day this year so far. /BGNES