Taiwan tests its military defense against a possible invasion

Taiwan will kick off a week of intense military exercises on Monday, the biggest of the year, as Taiwan will simulate defense against a mock attack by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army. Despite the noise around the island, the axis in which the superpowers collide has calmed down in recent weeks thanks to a Shy diplomatic rapprochement between Beijing and WashingtonThe tests are key for Taipei: last year, the People’s Republic of China deployed its military might on two occasions by conducting military tests around an enclave of unknown size.

during the past five days these maneuvers – Known as Han Kuang – Rehearsals of all kinds will take place, in different fields and at different points on the island. Taiwanese soldiers will pretend to defend the territory from an amphibious landing and protect critical infrastructure such as airports and internet communications. You’ll see tanks breaching beaches, soldiers firing from trenches, fighters policing the airspace.

In the parallel exercises, civilians will also learn how to act in the event of aggression. Anti-aircraft alarms will sound and you will have to run towards the enabled shelters. “I was in the office last year while working out,” recalls Kelly Huang, a 25-year-old Taiwanese woman. “All the employees where I work went into the basement. We stayed there for half an hour. Then everything went back to normal.”

Huang sees these exercises as “exercises” that seek to “prevent what might happen in the future; you never know.” He explains: “They are absolutely necessary. The complex situation that Taiwan faces with China is no secret to anyone. War, he says, is a possibility that should not be ruled out. “As citizens, all Taiwanese should, if such a time comes in the future, know what they need to do and what role they need to play.”

Last summer, the War Week maneuvers took place under the greatest scrutiny ever before The impending visit to Taiwan of then Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, which only happened a few days later. The American trip immediately angered Beijing, which considered it an insult and a break from fragility the current situation Which governs the balances around this democratic and self-governing island that China considers an integral part of its territory and in which the United States helps militarily.

In response, the Chinese government deployed the largest military maneuvers in its history, with a theater of war where it simulated an island blockade. Their ships and fighters crossed the Taiwan Strait, and high-powered missiles scattered across the island’s territory. Beijing also decided to cut off contacts with Washington in key areas such as the military and combating climate change, and the situation entered a dangerous downward spiral, the effects of which are still rippling.

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In February, the United States’ downing of an alleged Chinese spy balloon sent the relationship plummeting to record lows. In April, in response to a fleeting visit to the United States by Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, China He showed his military muscles again, simulating the bombing of infrastructure and landing on an island he has long advocated for its peaceful reunification, Although the use of force if necessary is not excluded.

Since then, relations between the two geopolitical giants have stabilized thanks to the visit of US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken to Beijing last month. Taiwan was a large part of the interviews for the first senior official of his rank to arrive in China in five years. Chinese Foreign Minister Chen Gang reminded him that Taiwan was an existential issue — “the core of China’s core interests” — and also the “principal danger” facing both powers.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken during his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jingping on June 19. Leah Mellis (AP)

In his subsequent confrontation with Xi, Blinken asserted that Washington “neither supports Taiwan independence nor seeks conflict with China,” according to the official reading of the meeting released by Beijing. Blinken’s detachment was followed by a series of friendly landings in the Chinese capital: Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. The special climate envoy, John Kerry, and the former centenary secretary of state, Henry Kissinger, predict a new course in relations.

This new version of the Han Kuang exercise, which has been held without interruption since 1984, is “extremely important” because it comes after the Chinese army “twice” simulated war drills around Taiwan, and after the Russian invasion of Ukraine,” says Dr. Lin Ying-yu, assistant professor at Tamkang University (Taiwan), who specializes in Chinese military capabilities. He adds that one of the new features will be the exercises around Taoyuan Airport, the international airport of the enclave located next to Taipei. On the capital.” And remember, Russia had a similar goal in Kiev during the early days of its invasion of Ukraine.

The airport, which swarms with travelers in the summer and is the busiest in the territory, has not been tested before. On this occasion, it will be closed for a few hours to carry out the exercise and both the ability to repel an attack and the linkage of the various security forces in the defense of the airport will be trained, explains Lin. The exercises will involve members of the Aviation Command, Special Forces and Airborne Special Forces disguised as invading forces. Taiwan’s Ministry of Defense said in early July that ground forces would be deployed to repel the takeover of the airport.

Another key, says the aforementioned expert, is the simulation of “counter-landing” exercises in which the island’s forces will seek to defend various areas that may be suitable for the arrival of the Chinese armed forces. It will not only be places in western Taiwan, the flank that drains towards mainland China, but also the coasts of the Pacific Ocean, an area where China has deployed its aircraft carrier. Shandong in April maneuvers. “We have to prepare ourselves because the People’s Liberation Army may come from the Pacific,” says Lin, who explains that submarine internet connections will also be resistance tested to avoid isolation, and focus will be placed on organizing national security in general (not just in the military), another of the lessons learned from the war in Ukraine.

The Asia-Pacific region is witnessing an intense supply of war games these days. The largest bilateral exercise between Australia and the United States began on Friday, involving as many as 13 countries over the course of two weeks in a simulation of war on land, sea, air, space, space and cyber. This tenth edition is the largest yet. Meanwhile, the day before, joint Sino-Russian war games began in the Sea of ​​Japan with the aim of protecting strategic sea routes. Over four days, the exercises were to test basic combat actions against air, land and submarine targets, according to state-run Chinese newspapers, citing military experts.

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