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Taiwan leader says island secure ahead of China drills

AFP  |  Taipei 

Taiwan's Ing-wen reassured residents today that the island was secure, a day before is set to hold live-fire drills in the narrow strait that separates the two.

spoke to reporters as she left for Swaziland, one of Taiwan's few remaining international allies that has not been wooed away by an ascendant as deteriorate.

Chinese officials have suggested tomorrow's military exercise is a warning to pro-independence advocates in as steps up its rhetoric against any challenges to its sovereignty.

sees self-ruling as part of its territory to be brought back into the fold and has not ruled out reunification by force.

said yesterday she had told national security officials to closely monitor the "surrounding situation".

"Please rest assured that we have the confidence and determination to safeguard the country's security," she said at

Tsai added that maintaining a peaceful "status quo" across the strait was her government's mission.

Although a fully fledged democracy, has never formally announced independence from the mainland and has warned of military action if it ever did.

Tsai's (DPP) is traditionally pro-independence and her newly appointed is a

When asked if the upcoming military exercise was directed at Lai, China's said yesterday it was "an action to safeguard the sovereignty and territorial integrity of our motherland".

Beijing has stepped up military patrols around the island and used diplomatic pressure to isolate Taiwan internationally since Tsai took office in May 2016, as she refuses to accept both sides are part of "one China".

has chipped away at Taiwan's dwindling number of allies, with one of the few not to have been convinced to give up official recognition of the island as a country.

On her four-day trip to Africa, Tsai will take part in celebrations marking of diplomatic ties with Taiwan.

Observers say tomorrow's planned drills also serve as a signal to Washington, which sent USS through the disputed Sea last week.

The region has become a potential flashpoint, with the saying China's aggressive activities in the area pose a threat to freedom of navigation.

is also Taiwan's most powerful -- thought unofficial -- ally and its biggest arms supplier.

Relations have warmed between and in recent months, including the passage of a bill last month that promotes visits by officials at all levels.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, April 17 2018. 11:50 IST