Taiwan conducts military games
The Taiwanese Air Force has held air-defense exercises in the vicinity of the country’s capital, Taipei, to prepare for a potential aerial attack by China, the Ministry of National Defense (MND) revealed. The drills were held early on Tuesday morning and were meant to test the defensive capabilities and combat readiness of ground troops, officials claim.
According to an anonymous military official cited by Focus Taiwan news outlet, simulated sorties took place without warning over areas near Taipei using several US-made F-16 and Taiwanese-made IDF fighter jets, along with AH-64E Apache attack helicopters. The main objective of the exercise was to check the country's air defense forces' readiness in an environment resembling real-life combat.
The official also noted that the drills were of particular importance in the face of a potential Chinese aerial attack.
Meanwhile, Taiwan's military unveiled a comic-strip survival guide on Tuesday for use by civilians in the event of a war. The booklet gives tips on how to find bomb shelters via smartphone apps, prepare emergency first-aid kits, as well as how to distinguish types of air-raid sirens.
Plans have also been floated in recent weeks to extend compulsory military service for male citizens beyond the current four months. That would represent a reversal of the general trend in the country, as the compulsory stint in the army has been gradually reduced from two years since the 1990s.
Since 1949, Taiwan has de facto been independent from mainland China, with the losing side in the Chinese civil war fleeing to the island and installing its own administration there. China, however, has always deemed Taiwan to be its own, describing the local government as separatists.
Over the past few years, Beijing has stepped up its military activities around the island, mainly in the Taiwan Strait. Top Chinese officials, including President Xi Jinping, have said on multiple occasions that Beijing will not rule out taking military action to ensure the reunification of the breakaway province with mainland China.
While Taiwan's independence is officially recognized by only a handful of other nations, the US has been supporting the island militarily for years, with Washington warning Beijing of severe consequences should China decide to retake Taiwan by force.
Following the start of Russia's military campaign against Ukraine in late February, the Taiwanese government raised its alert level, admitting, however, that at present there are no signs of an imminent invasion by China.
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, who took office back in 2016, has placed particular emphasis on improving the country's defense capabilities, launching a major modernization program of the Taiwanese military.