Taiwan holds first live-fire military drill since 2008

Taiwanese military maneuver M60A3 Patton tanks during Han Kuang military exercises in Penghu county, 17 April 2013 Taiwan says that the exercises are necessary to sustain peace

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Taiwan has held a live-fire military drill for the first time since 2008.

The drill, which involved its army, navy and air force, simulated a Chinese attack on Taiwan's Penghu Islands.

It is the first time live ammunition has been used in Taiwan's annual military drills since Ma Ying-jeou became president.

China, which views Taiwan as part of its territory, released a defence white paper on Tuesday criticising "Taiwan independence separatist forces".

The operation involved the test of Taiwan's Thunderbolt-2000 multiple rocket launch system for the first time, military officials said.

"[In] the past few years, the Chinese communists have conducted a massive build-up in both quality and quantity following fast economic development," President Ma Ying-jeou said.

"In the fact of the threat, we have to make some preparations if we are to sustain peace in the Taiwan Strait."

Cross-strait relations have improved since Mr Ma assumed office in 2008, but he has come under criticism for getting too close to China, correspondents say.

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