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Taiwan starts military drills amid China exercise

August 9, 2022

Taiwan has sounded the alarm over ongoing Chinese military drills in the Taiwan Strait, accusing Beijing of trying to change the decadeslong status quo in the region.

Soldiers fire 155mm howitzers during an annual live fire military exercise in Pingtung county, southern Taiwan, August 9, 2022.
Taiwan launched a military exercise on Tuesday, but said the planned drills were not a response to Chinese activityImage: Ann Wang/REUTERS

Taiwan launched live-fire military exercises of its own on Tuesday, as military drills by China continued into the week.

Taipei launched its drills shortly after 0040 GMT with the firing of target flares and artillery and ended just under an hour later at 0130 GMT, said Lou Woei-jye, the spokesman for Taiwan's Eighth Army Corps.

Lou told the AFP news agency on Monday that military drills were scheduled exercises and weren't a direct response to Chinese posturing around the island.

Taiwan's army said the drills would once again take place on Thursday, and that they included the deployment of hundreds of troops and about 40 howitzers.

China extends operations

China initially scheduled its drills to run from Thursday until Sunday, in response to a visit by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan, but the Chinese military's Eastern Theater Command later announced continued military drills on Monday and Tuesday.

The Chinese army on Tuesday said it would continue to hold military drills and exercises in the seas and airspace around Taiwan, with a focus on blockades and resupply logistics.

On Monday, China's army focused on joint anti-submarine and sea assault operations.

Taiwan's exercises on Tuesday simulated how it might  defend the island if it were to come under attack

Taiwan's Foreign Minister Joseph Wu told reporters at a press conference on Tuesday that "China has used the drills and its military playbook to prepare for the invasion of Taiwan."

"China's real intention is to alter the status quo in the Taiwan Strait and the entire region," Wu said.

The US, Australia and Japan have condemned Chinese drills in the Taiwan Strait.

Standoff reported in Taiwan Strait

Reuters news agency reported on Tuesday, citing an unnamed source, that about 20 Chinese and Taiwanese navy boats held close to the median line in the Taiwan Strait.

The median line is the unofficial dividing line midway between China and Taiwan, which is recognized by neither party formally but typically accepted by both.

Both China and Taiwan consider the waters to be theirs — just as China considers Taiwan a part of China and Taiwan considers itself China's government in exile.

The dividing line was first suggested by the US, and for decades both sides kept to a tacit agreement not to cross the median line. However, China first breached the unofficial divide in 1999 and has been doing so with increasing frequency ever since. 

rm/msh (Reuters, AP, AFP)

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