China Announces More Tests

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BEIJING: China announced another round of military exercises near Taiwan in its continued effort to intimidate the island before its upcoming election. The official Xinhua News Agency said China will conduct joint ground, naval and air exercises in the Taiwan Straits starting Monday, even as it declared the end of eight days of missile launches near the island. China has said that the exercises are intended to quash pro-independence sentiment on Taiwan as it prepares for its first direct presidential election on March 23. The new exercises would straddle the election in which pro-independence President Lee Teng-hui is expected to win another term. "China is hoping to derail Lee Teng-hui's election, but they are practical enough to realize it is unrealistic," TIME's Jamie A. FlorCruz says. "Beijing is resigned to another four-year term of Lee. The ongoing military maneuvers tell Lee to take a softer stand or he'll find it hard to govern." For his part, Lee told an enthusiastic crowd of 1,500 farmers outside Taipei that he and running-mate Lien Chan were not "wimps with weak feet" and would not bow to "intimidation and surrender to Communist China."