Taiwan holds live-fire drills as China tensions mount

Taiwan holds live-fire drills as China tensions mount

HUALIEN, Taiwan – Agence France-Presse
Taiwan holds live-fire drills as China tensions mount

Taiwan troops staged live-fire exercises Jan. 30 to simulate fending off an invasion, as the island’s main threat China steps up pressure on President Tsai Ing-wen and a row over airline routes escalated.

The military dispatched reconnaissance aircrafts to surveil simulated incoming ships, followed by tanks firing rounds as the mimicked enemy landed at the Port of Hualien in eastern Taiwan.

Attack helicopters released flares and F-16 fighter jets also launched assaults, backing up on-the-ground battle against the “enemy” troops -- who wore red helmets to differentiate themselves.

While the ministry did not specify the annual drill simulated a Chinese invasion, it said that the drill is to “show determination to safeguard peace in the Taiwan Strait and national security.”

The Taiwan Strait is the waterway that separates the island from China.

It comes after Tsai last month warned against what she called Beijing’s “military expansion” -- the increase of Chinese air and naval drills around the island since she came to power in May 2016 -- and amid a new row over flight routes in the strait.

Beijing sees the self-ruling island as part of its territory, to be reunified at some point, and by force, if necessary.

Cross-strait relations have turned frosty since the inauguration of Tsai, who refuses to acknowledge self-ruling, democratic Taiwan is part of “one China.”