Taiwan steps up military exercises and arms purchases to deter China attack

New Delhi, May 30: Soon after China held military drills in the waters around Taiwan, the latter retaliated by holding military exercises with all the three wings of its armed forces and the coast guard.

The Taiwanese air force and the navy fired several missiles during the exercises. Taiwan has been fervently preparing its forces to defend itself from a possible invasion by China.

The island nation is taking unusual steps to defend itself. It has converted its coast guard vessels into missile-launching ‘ship killers’ for quick deployment during a possible Chinese invasion. It has also doubled the recruitment of reservists in anticipation of an invasion.

On Sunday, Taiwan newspapers reported Foreign Minister Joseph Wu saying that Chinese actions could lead to a world war because of human rights violations in Xinjiang and political coercion in Hong Kong and Taiwan. In a tweet, he said: “1st they took Tibet for “peace.” Then they turned Xinjiang into a de-extremism camp. Now they’re rolling up Hong Kong & going after Taiwan for “one China,” & far beyond for “my ancestors stopped by.” Aren’t these the signs of a looming world war? JW”

The foreign minister added: “Defending Taiwan is our own responsibility,” but he stressed on the fact that Taiwan would need diplomatic support internationally as well as weapons.

Taiwan has close relations with the US and, like Japan, has increased purchases of weapons from Washington. Monitoring the Ukraine war strategy, it has purchased Javelins and Stinger missiles from the US.

In mid-May also, Taiwan had conducted the annual Han Kuang military exercises. The island nation, just 180 kilometres away from the Chinese east coast is also taking lessons from the Russia-Ukraine war. Taiwan feels that the risk of a China attack has increased considerably after the Ukraine war.

The Han Kuang, also known as annual exercises, are Taiwan’s largest military exercises involving all services of the armed forces. Significantly, this time Taiwan did not use computer simulations and used physical maps instead. The Taipei Times reported that physical maps allow generals to meet face-to-face and brainstorm ideas.

The Han Kuang exercises are based on the possible scenarios that China could implement for an assault on Taiwan.

In the past few weeks, China has held a series of military exercises around Taiwan, practicing various scenarios like invading the island and cutting off friendly nations like the US and Japan from assisting Taiwan. China is regularly deploying both its aircraft carriers around the eastern seas of Taiwan.

The island nation faces another headache. Many of its smaller islands lie closer to mainland China–as close as a couple of kms. Taiwan fears that these could become easy prey for its belligerent neighbour. The 1,20,000 residents of the Taiwan-governed Kinmen Islands can see towering skyscrapers from their islands and can reach mainland China faster in a boat than they can fly to Taiwan.

China has tried to take over the islands several times, including even during Mao’s time, but could not do so. Despite strong defensive systems to guard the island from an invasion, the people feel closer to China than to Taiwan.

It is the same with Matsu island which lies to the north. Unlike the Kinmen Islands, the people here have been under pressure because of China’s massive dredging activities. Huge ships from China have been sucking out sand from near the island damaging its marine environment. Taiwan has a hard time shooing away the hundreds of Chinese dredgers.

(The content is being carried under an arrangement with indianarrative.com)





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