Taiwan holds military drill after China repeats threats
Taipei (AFP) – Taiwan’s military held another live-fire drill on Thursday after Beijing halted its biggest-ever military exercises around the island, as it repeated threats to bring self-governing democracy under its control.
Beijing raged on a trip to Taiwan last week by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi – the highest-ranking US lawmaker to visit in decades – staging days of air and sea exercises around the island which have raised tensions to their highest level in years. .
Taiwan has accused China of using Pelosi’s visit as an excuse to launch exercises that would allow it to prepare for an invasion.
Lou Woei-jye, spokesman for Taiwan’s Eighth Army Corps, told AFP his forces fired howitzers and flares as part of the defensive exercise on Thursday morning.
The drill in Taiwan’s southernmost county, Pingtung, started at 8:30 a.m. local time (0030 GMT) and lasted about an hour, he said.
Artillery brought in from the coast was lined up side by side, with armed soldiers in units firing howitzers out to sea one after another, a live stream showed.
Taiwan held a similar exercise Tuesday in Pingtung. Both included the deployment of hundreds of troops, the army said.
The military downplayed their significance, saying they were already scheduled and not in response to China’s war games.
“We have two objectives for the exercises, the first is to certify the good condition of the artillery and their state of maintenance and the second is to confirm the results of last year,” Lou said, referring to the annual exercises. .
The latest drill came after China’s military said its own drills had ended on Wednesday, saying its forces “successfully completed various tasks” in the Taiwan Strait while vowing to continue patrolling its waters. .
But in the same announcement, China added that it would “continue to conduct military training and prepare for war.”
In a separate white paper released Wednesday, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office said Beijing “would not renounce the use of force” against its neighbor and reserved “the ability to take any necessary measures.”
“We are ready to create a vast space for peaceful reunification, but we will leave no room for separatist activities in any form,” he said in the newspaper.
Taiwan regularly holds military drills simulating defense against a Chinese invasion, and last month practiced repelling attacks from the sea in a “joint interception operation” as part of its largest annual exercises.
In response to the Chinese military revealing it was ending drills on Wednesday, the Taiwanese military said it would “adjust the way we deploy our forces… without letting our guard down.”
© 2022 AFP