Taiwan: artillery exercises simulating defense against a Chinese invasion

Taiwan: artillery exercises simulating defense against a Chinese invasion

Taiwan’s military conducted a live-fire artillery exercise on Tuesday simulating the island’s defense against a Chinese invasion, following extensive military maneuvers by Beijing for several days.

An AFP reporter on the scene noted the start of operations in the southern Pingtung County shortly after 00:40 GMT, with flares and artillery fire.

The exercise ended at about 0130 GMT, said Lou Woei-jye, a spokesman for Taiwan’s Eighth Army Corps.

The exercises, with a second scheduled for Thursday, will involve the deployment of several hundred soldiers and about 40 howitzers, the army said.

China launched its largest military maneuvers around Taiwan last week, in response to a visit by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the most senior U.S. official to visit the self-governing island in decades.

Chinese military helicopters near the Taiwanese island of Pingtan, August 4, 2022, as part of major military exercises (AFP – Hector RETAMAL)

Beijing believes that Taiwan, which has a population of about 23 million, is one of its provinces, which it has not yet managed to reunify with the rest of its territory since the end of the Chinese civil war (1949).

Mr. Lou assured on Monday that the Taiwanese exercises were already scheduled and that it was not a response to the ongoing Chinese exercises.

The island regularly organizes military exercises simulating a Chinese invasion. The latest, last month, where she trained to repel attacks from the sea during a “joint interception operation”.

These were its largest 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 am not worried, but I am concerned that they are moving so much. But I don’t think they’re going to do anything more,” Joe Biden told reporters at Dover Air Force Base in the state of Delaware.

Before starting its own military exercises, Taipei had condemned on Tuesday the fact that Beijing continues its maneuvers around the territory.

A man reading a newspaper reporting on Chinese military maneuvers near Taiwan, on August 8, 2022 in Beijing (AFP - Noel Celis)
A man reading a newspaper reporting on Chinese military maneuvers near Taiwan, on August 8, 2022 in Beijing (AFP – Noel Celis)

“China’s provocation and aggression have undermined the status quo of the Taiwan Strait and raised tensions in the region,” Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

No Chinese warplanes or ships entered Taiwan’s territorial waters – within 12 nautical miles of land – during Beijing’s exercises, Taiwan stressed.

Last week, the Chinese military still released a video of an air force pilot filming the coast and mountains of the island from his cockpit, showing how close he had come to the Taiwanese coast.

Ballistic missiles were also fired over the Taiwanese capital, Taipei, during last week’s exercises, Chinese state media reported.

China-Taiwan: the military forces (AFP - Gal ROMA)
China-Taiwan: the military forces (AFP – Gal ROMA)

The scale and intensity of China’s exercises – coupled with its withdrawal from international climate and defense negotiations – have sparked outrage in the United States and other Western countries.

But Beijing defended its behavior on Monday, calling it “firm, forceful and appropriate” in the face of American provocation.

“(We) are only issuing a warning to those responsible” for this crisis, Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin argued at a press briefing, promising that China would “firmly break the illusion of the Taiwanese authorities to obtain independence through the United States”.

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