Live-fire exercises on one of the northernmost Taiwanese islands come amid high alert over the Russia-Ukraine crisis
FILE PHOTO © Military News Agency via AP
The Taiwanese military held drills on an island less than 50 kilometers from the Chinese mainland, reportedly firing weapons at offshore targets amid heightened fears in Taipei that Russia’s Ukraine offensive might embolden Beijing to launch a similar attack.
Wednesday’s exercises on Dongyin Island, located southeast of Fuzhou, China, included firing of cannons and machine guns at floating targets meant to represent advancing enemy forces, Reuters reported. Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense called the live-fire drills routine, but they come amid growing tensions with Beijing, which considers the former Chinese province to be part of its sovereign territory.
Dongyin is one of several Taiwanese-controlled islands near the Chinese coast. One island group, called Kinmen, is right across Xiamen Bay from the mainland, only about 10 kilometers away. Taipei has reportedly been planning drills to test its defenses on several of the islets amid growing fears that China will seize one or more of the islands to force reunification talks with Taipei.
Taiwan’s military releases video of drills near the Chinese coast. In the video, soldiers are seen firing shells at a floating red cross in the water, meant to represent advancing enemy forces. Close combat drills are also conducted. pic.twitter.com/VIS7YZkLOV
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Taiwan reportedly has anti-ship and surface-to-air missiles deployed on the rocky island, which is home to about 1,500 civilians. Dongyin is considered a high-priority target for Chinese forces, as it sits at a point that invading naval and air units would likely pass if they were attacking from the north.