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Taiwan holds massive Han...

In simulated scenes, a hostile enemy attempts to seize control of a key waterway close to the Ta...

Taiwan holds massive Han Kuang military drills as tensions with China build

Taiwan holds massive Han Kuang military drills as tensions with China build

In simulated scenes, a hostile enemy attempts to seize control of a key waterway close to the Taiwanese capital.


Attacking from sea and air, the invading forces target the mouth of the Tamsui River on the island's northern coast a strategic estuary that provides direct access to the center of Taipei.

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In response, Taiwan's military scrambles Indigenous Defense Fighter (IDF) jets and tanks, while ground troops detonate explosives to stop the advancement.

The scenes are part of the week-long Han Kuang exercises held across Taiwan and its outlying islands until Friday.

The annual event has been running since 1984 and involves all branches of Taiwan's military including its reserve forces in an effort to boost overall defense capabilities.

This year, the drills have taken on a greater significance amid growing concerns over China's intentions towards Taiwan a self-governing island that Beijing's ruling Communist Party claims as its own.

Those concerns have been sharpened by Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Beijing has not ruled out the use of force to take control of Taiwan and has been putting growing military pressure on the island by sending aircraft into its self-declared air defense identification zone.

Beijing has also reacted sternly to reports that US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is considering a trip to Taipei, warning that China's military would "resolutely defend national sovereignty" if faced with "external forces" encouraging Taiwanese independence.

"China demands the US take concrete actions to fulfill its commitment not to support 'Taiwan independence' and not to arrange for Pelosi to visit Taiwan,"China's Ministry of Defense spokesperson Tan Kefei said Tuesday in response to questions over Pelosi's reported trip to Taipei.

"If the US insists on taking its own course, the Chinese military will never sit idly by, and it will definitely take strong actions to thwart any external force's interference and separatist's schemes for 'Taiwan independence,' and resolutely defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity," Tan added.

Both the US and Taiwan have warned the island is coming under growing military pressure from Beijing. This is partly reflected by the number of times China has been sending its military aircraft into Taiwan's self-declared air defense identification zone including 56 planes in just one day last October.

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In response, Taiwan has had to scramble combat aircraft, issue radio warnings and deploy air defense missile systems to monitor the activities.Last year, Taiwan Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng said China could be capable of mounting a "full-scale" invasion by 2025, adding that cross-strait military tensions are at their "most serious" point in the more than 40 years since he joined the military.

Since then, Russia's invasion of Ukraine and China's refusal to condemn Moscow's actions have heightened speculation over Beijing's intentions. Last week, CIA Director Bill Burns said China has been closely studying Russia's invasion of Ukraine in calculating "how and when" it might decide to invade Taiwan.

"I wouldn't underestimate President Xi's determination to assert China's control," Burns said.Such assessments have put the spotlight on how Taiwan could best respond in the event of an invasion.

Chang Yan-ting, who served as a former deputy commander of Taiwan's air force, told CNN that Taiwan needs to learn from Ukraine in combating a larger invading force and accelerate its development of asymmetric warfare capabilities.

Rather than focusing on conventional weapons like tanks, he said Taiwan should develop and purchase new long-range missiles that could hit China's military facilities in the event of war.

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"Taiwan is different from Ukraine in that we are an island and densely populated, so it would be difficult for residents to evacuate from Taiwan if war breaks out," Chang said.

Hence, the Taiwanese military should focus its strategy on blocking China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) from landing in the first place, rather than retreating to the hinterland and risking battles in densely populated cities. - CNN


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