Taiwan: Artillery drills simulate defense against Chinese invasion
Taiwan’s military held a live-fire artillery exercise on Tuesday, simulating the island’s defense against a Chinese invasion, following days of major military maneuvers by Beijing.
An AFP reporter on the ground began operations in Pingdong County (south) shortly after 00:40 GMT, with incendiary and artillery fire.
The exercise ended at 01:30 GMT, said Lou Woei-jye, a spokesman for Taiwan’s Eighth Corps.
With a second exercise planned for Thursday, several hundred troops and about 40 howitzers will be involved, the military said.
China began its biggest military maneuvers around Taiwan last week in response to a visit by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the US president who has visited the self-ruled island in decades.
Beijing believes that Taiwan, home to about 23 million people, is one of its provinces that has yet to unite with the rest of it since the end of the Chinese Civil War (1949).
The Taiwanese exercises have already been planned and are not in response to the ongoing Chinese exercises, said Mr. Lue made the commitment on Monday.
The island regularly hosts military exercises simulating a Chinese invasion. Most recently, last month, he trained to repel attacks from the sea during a “joint intercept operation.”
These are his biggest annual exercises.
– Biden “Not Worried” –
The Taiwanese drills come after China extended its own joint sea and air maneuvers around the island on Monday.
For Washington, the risk of escalation from Beijing is low.
“I’m not worried, but I’m worried that they’re moving around a lot. But I don’t think they’re going to do anything more,” Joe Biden told reporters at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.
Taipei on Tuesday condemned Beijing for continuing its maneuvers around the region before launching its own military exercises.
“China’s provocation and aggression have undermined the status quo in the Taiwan Strait and increased tensions in the region,” Taiwan’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
Taiwan said no Chinese warplanes or ships entered Taiwan’s territorial waters — within 12 nautical miles — during the Beijing exercise.
However, last week, the Chinese military released a video of an air force pilot filming the island’s coastline and mountains from his cockpit, showing how close he came.
Chinese state media reported that ballistic missiles were also fired at Taiwan’s capital, Taipei, during the exercise last week.
The scale and intensity of China’s drills – which have sidelined international climate and security talks – have sparked outrage in the US and other Western countries.
But Beijing on Monday defended its conduct, calling it “firm, strong and appropriate” in the face of US provocation.
“(We) are only issuing a warning to those responsible for the crisis,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a news conference, vowing that China would “resolutely break the illusion of Taiwan authorities seeking independence through the mediation of the United States.” in the States”.
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