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Taiwan remains unfazed amid China's "punishment" drills

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Taipei: China has conducted mock missile strikes in waters east of Taiwan and sent fighter jets carrying live missiles as Beijing tested its ability to "seize power" and control key areas of Taiwan.

Despite a second day of "punishment" drills on Friday in response to Taiwan's new President Lai Ching-te, many residents of the island said they would continue their normal routines, undeterred by Beijing's pressure, reported Reuters.

The population of the island is accustomed to decades of Chinese threats.

"China's military exercises don't really affect our daily lives. We still have to work to make money," said Chen Sian-en, a tyre repair shop owner in Kaohsiung, a southern city that hosts a major Taiwanese navy base. "From childhood to adulthood, it means that we've gotten used to (China's) threats."

He called them "some kind of intimidation tactic" and a "show of force" by Beijing in response to Taiwan's new leader. "They've talked about it so many times, but there hasn't been any real action. If they wanted to take over Taiwan, they would have done it already."

While Taiwanese media has reported on the drills, much of their attention has been on ongoing protests against legislative reforms pushed by the opposition and occasional clashes among lawmakers.

"I feel no reason to be scared," said Taipei taxi driver Chuang Jun-sung to Reuters. "If China really attacks Taiwan, there's nothing Taiwan can do but deal with it. But we should still have the guts to fire our missiles back at them."

The drills are being conducted around Taiwan and near the Taiwan-controlled islands of Kinmen, Matsu, Wuqiu, and Dongyin, close to the Chinese coast.

China's actions were triggered by Lai's inauguration speech on Monday, where he stated that the two sides of the Taiwan Strait are "not subordinate to each other," a statement Beijing interpreted as implying that China and Taiwan are separate countries.

Taiwan's benchmark index remains at a historic high, showing minimal impact from China's drills.

The market closed down 0.2% on Friday; on Thursday, the day the drills began, it closed up 0.3%. Taiwan's TSMC, the world's largest contract chip maker and a major Nvidia supplier, also saw its stock at a historic peak.

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