Taiwan military drills to focus on combating blockade of island

Two-phase Han Kuang exercises will begin next month amid heightened tension in the strait following recent war games in China.

Taiwan will begin its military exercises in Han Kuang next month with computer simulations as it focuses on combating a blockade of the island and preserving the combat capabilities of its armed forces, the defense ministry said.

The annual exercises start from May 15 with five days of table exercises. From July 24, live fire exercises will take place for five days.

The focus will be on the “conservation” and “maritime interception” of armed forces, the Defense Ministry said at a news conference, and will include civilian airports.

The naval element will integrate naval, air and land forces to attack enemy forces and amphibious assault ships, as well as protect sea routes and counter blockades, it said.

“Of course, our exercises are based on the threat of the communists invading Taiwan and the recent military exercises around Taiwan,” the ministry’s head of battle planning, Gen. Lin Wen-huang, told reporters.

China, which claims the self-governed island as its own, has stepped up pressure on Taiwan since Tsai Ing-wen was first elected president in 2016. Beijing has also tried to isolate the area internationally.

Earlier this month, after Tsai met Speaker of the US House of Representatives Kevin McCarthy in California, Beijing rehearsed days of precision strikes and blockades around the island, echoing its actions after McCarthy’s predecessor Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan last year.

China, which has not ruled out the use of force to take control of Taiwan, considers Tsai a “separatist” and claims she is out for independence. Tsai says the people of Taiwan should be the ones to decide their future.

China’s navy shared a slick video last week to celebrate its 74th birthday, showing its aircraft carrier, the Shandong, and new amphibious assault ships simulating an attack and landing somewhere in the “Western Pacific,” suggesting an unforeseen situation in Taiwan. were planning.

“It takes a strong navy to protect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country,” said Zhu Fenglian, a spokesman for China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, on Wednesday when asked what message the video was supposed to convey.

“The authorities of the Democratic Progressive Party and Taiwan’s independence forces are trying to cooperate with outside forces, but there is no chance of splitting the country,” she said, referring to Taiwan’s ruling party.

Taiwan is trying to boost its defensive capabilities by investing in new equipment such as long-range missiles and drones and extending conscription to one year.

While the Taiwanese military is generally well trained and equipped with mostly US-made hardware, China has tremendous numerical superiority and adds advanced equipment such as stealth fighters.

Speaking to reporters in parliament, Tsai Ming-yen, director general of Taiwan’s National Security Bureau, said China was using new methods of “cognitive warfare” to sway public opinion and spread fake news in the run-up to Taiwan’s presidential election. January.

“We must continue to pay attention to what they are up to during the election process,” he said