Taiwan holds live-fire drills as China tensions mount
Taiwan troops staged live-fire exercises on 30 January to simulate fending off an invasion, as the island's main threat China steps up pressure on President Tsai Ing-wen..
Located at the Port of Hualien, the exercise saw reconnaissance aircraft flying mock patrols over simulated attacking vessels, with armoured vehicles deterring the attacking force.
Attack helicopters and F-16 fighters were also involved, supporting the ground action against a red-helmeted enemy.
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 in December 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.
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'.
The drill on 30 January takes place annually prior to Lunar New Year holiday – which lands in mid-February in 2018 – as a way to boost public confidence in Taiwan's defence capabilities.
Lieutenant General Huang Kai-sen said: ‘Our combat readiness has no holidays. In order for our citizens to feel safe during the Chinese New Year, we are standing by and on guard 24 hours a day.’
China sent its sole operational aircraft carrier the Liaoning through the Taiwan strait twice this month.
While China's defence ministry urged Taiwanese not to worry as there was nothing unusual, the act is still viewed as a show of strength by Beijing.