Taiwan is changing up its combat drills to fight off an invasion by China

SAM YEH/AFP/Getty ImagesTaiwan special forces personnel walk behind an armoured personnel carrier during an annual military drill in Taichung, central Taiwan.
  • Taiwan’s military announced Wednesday that it has several new large-scale drills planned for the coming year.
  • The new drills are “being drafted based on newly adopted tactics for defending against a possible Chinese invasion,” according to the defence ministry.
  • The announcement comes one week after Chinese President Xi Jinping warned the island that China is keeping the use of force on the table.

Taiwan is planning a series of new, large-scale combat drills to boost military readiness for the possibility of armed conflict with mainland China.

Taiwan’s military announced Wednesday that new drills are “being drafted based on newly adopted tactics for defending against a possible Chinese invasion,” according Maj. Gen. Yeh Kuo-hui, chief of the Ministry of National Defence’s Operations and Planning Division, the Associated Press reported, citing Taiwan’s official Central News Agency.

This year’s exercises will include a month of combat readiness training in the first quarter, another month-long live-fire exercise in the second quarter, joint anti-landing operations in the third quarter, and joint anti-airborne maneuvers in the fourth and final quarter, Focus Taiwan reported.

China claims absolute, indisputable sovereignty over Taiwan, an autonomous democratic territory perceived in Beijing as a renegade province. “We make no promise to abandon the use of force, and retain the option of taking all necessary measures” to achieve reunification, Chinese President Xi Jinping warned in a message to the island last week.

China has an 3-million-member army and the world’s second largest defence budget. Taiwan lacks the numbers, but it does have a technologically capable fighting force, which the island hopes could repel a Chinese invasion.

Beijing has previously warned Taipei that efforts to bolster its military capabilities are pointless.

“I want to stress that it is a dead end to deny reunification by using force,” Wu Qian, spokesman for the Chinese defence ministry, stated in late December, stating that the People’s Liberation Army will continue to conduct exercises and operations near Taiwan.

The Chinese military carried out 18,000 military drills last year, and China’s armed forces are expected to continue to ramp up training in response to perceived threats to Chinese national interests. Taiwan’s military is doing the same.

“We want to assure citizens that the military is constantly beefing up its combat preparedness and stands ready to fight for the survival of the Republic of China (Taiwan),” Taiwan’s military spokesman Chen Chung-chi said recently.

This year, for the first time ever, the Council on Foreign Relations listedTaiwan as a potential flashpoint on its annual Preventive Priorities Survey, although it was ranked as a Tier II concern beyond other possible conflict zones, like the South China Sea and the Korean Peninsula.

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