Taipei matching Beijing’s live-fire drills

BEIJING (AFP) — Taiwan is due to begin its own live-fire drills on Tuesday as China carried out fresh military exercises around the island on Monday.

“We will practise counter moves against simulated enemy attacks on Taiwan,” Lou Woei-jye, spokesperson for the Eighth Army Corps, told AFP.

They will include the deployment of hundreds of troops and about 40 howitzer guns, the army said.

China on Monday said its largest-ever exercises encircling the democratic island in the wake of a visit by United States House Speaker Nancy Pelosi were ongoing, reporting “the eastern theater of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army continued to carry out practical joint exercises and training in the sea and airspace around Taiwan island.”

The exercises, the Chinese military’s Eastern Command said, were “focusing on organizing joint anti-submarine and sea assault operations.”

Beijing is also Monday set to carry out live fire drills in parts of the South China Sea and Yellow Sea.

Su Tseng-chang, Taiwan’s premier, said China was “barbarously using military action” to disturb peace in the Taiwan Strait.

“We call on the Chinese government not to go around wielding its military power, showing its muscles everywhere and jeopardizing the peace of the region,” he told reporters Sunday.

Taipei’s foreign ministry said the drills threatened “the region and even the world.”

To show how close it has got to Taiwan’s shores, the Chinese military released a video of an air force pilot filming the island’s coastline and mountains from his cockpit.

The Eastern Command also shared a photo it said was of a warship on patrol with Taiwan’s shoreline visible in the background.

Ballistic missiles were also fired over Taiwan’s capital during the exercises last week, according to Chinese state media.

China has also deployed fighter jets and warships in what analysts have described as practice for a blockade and ultimate invasion of the self-ruled island which China claims as its territory.

Those drills were expected to draw to a close on Sunday, but neither Beijing nor Taipei confirmed their conclusion, though Taiwan’s transport ministry said it had seen some evidence suggesting at least a partial drawdown.

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