Taiwan will stage a mock military invasion by China, the country’s Defense Ministry said Tuesday, as tensions rise over Beijing’s increasingly strident claims over the island.
“Simply put, the main goal of the drills is to make any Chinese communist military mission to invade Taiwan fail,” Ministry spokesman Chen Chung-chi told reporters.
This year’s edition of the annual “Han Kuang” military drills, to be held in June, will involve a five-day live-fire exercise on a beach, as soldiers replicate a response to an invading army.
“It simulates this year’s situation and we are taking into consideration China’s air and naval movements in the region,” Chen said.
The status of Taiwan, a self-ruling democracy, is one of the thorniest issues for Beijing, which views the island as part of China’s territory. Relations between Beijing and Taipei have grown more strained since President Tsai Ing-wen from the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party took office in 2016. Tsai does not accept Beijing’s position that Taiwan is part of “one China,” but has said she intends to maintain the status quo.
That hasn’t alleviated Beijing’s anxieties about a formal push for independence, and China’s military has increasingly flexed its muscles in the waters surrounding Taiwan; last week it held live-fire exercises in the Taiwan Strait, a move that Taipei slammed as the “cheapest way of verbal intimidation and sabre-rattling.”
Tensions also ratcheted up earlier this month after Taiwan Premier William Lai told parliament he considered himself a “Taiwan independence worker” and he viewed the country as a sovereign, independent state. The remarks prompted the Global Times, a powerful Chinese state-run newspaper, to call for the government to issue an international arrest warrant for Lai, saying he should be prosecuted for secession.
According to a recent survey, most Taiwanese believe it is unlikely that China would invade Taiwan, but they have little confidence in the country’s ability to defend itself should such an attack happened.
Cover image: A frigate launches chaff and flare during a drill at the sea near the Suao navy harbor in Yilan, eastern Taiwan, on April 13, 2018. (SAM YEH/AFP/Getty Images)