9th August 2022 – (Fenggang Township, Taiwan) Taiwan’s military began a live-fire artillery drill Tuesday simulating the defence of the island against an attack after days of massive Chinese military exercises, an AFP journalist at the site of the exercise said.
Lou Woei-jye, spokesman for Taiwan’s Eighth Army Corps, confirmed that the drills had started in the southern county of Pingtung shortly after 0040 GMT with the firing of target flares and artillery, ending within an hour at 0130 GMT.
As the last round of cannon was fired, Taiwanese soldiers were heard shouting “mission accomplished”.
China launched its largest-ever war games around Taiwan last week in a furious response to a visit by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the highest-ranking US official to visit the self-ruled island in decades.
Taiwan lives under the constant threat of invasion by China, which views its neighbour as part of Chinese territory to be reclaimed one day, by force if necessary.
Taipei’s drills, taking place on Tuesday and Thursday, will include the deployment of hundreds of troops and about 40 howitzers, the army said.
Lou said Monday the drills were already scheduled and were not being held in response to China’s exercises.
The island routinely stages military drills simulating a Chinese invasion and last month practiced repelling attacks from the sea in a “joint interception operation” as part of its largest annual exercises.
The anti-landing exercises come after China extended its own joint sea and air drills around Taiwan on Monday, but Washington said it did not expect an escalation from Beijing.
“I’m not worried, but I’m concerned they’re moving as much as they are. But I don’t think they’re going to do anything more than they are,” Biden told reporters at Dover Air Force Base.
Ahead of Tuesday’s drill, Taipei condemned Beijing for carrying on with its military exercises around the island.
“China’s provocation and aggression have harmed the status quo of the Taiwan Strait and raised tensions in the region,” the island’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
Taiwan has insisted that no Chinese warplanes or ships entered its territorial waters – within 12 nautical miles of land – during Beijing’s drills.
The Chinese military, however, released a video last week of an air force pilot filming the island’s coastline and mountains from his cockpit, showing how close it had come to Taiwan’s shores.
Ballistic missiles were also fired over Taiwan’s capital during the exercises last week, according to Chinese state media.
The scale and intensity of China’s drills — as well as its withdrawal from key talks on climate and defence — have triggered outrage in the United States and other democracies.
But Beijing on Monday defended its behaviour as “firm, forceful and appropriate” to American provocation.
“(We) are only issuing a warning to the perpetrators,” foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a regular briefing, promising China would “firmly smash the Taiwan authorities’ illusion of gaining independence through the US”.