Taiwan holds military drills near mainland China — Analysis

In the midst of Russia-Ukraine crisis, live-fire exercises are held on one Taiwanese island.

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, one of many Taiwanese-controlled island groups near the Chinese coastline. Kinmen is an island group that lies just 10 km from the Chinese mainland. It can be found across Xiamen Bay. Taipei is said to be planning drills in order to test its defenses of several of these islands amid rising fears that China may seize any of the islands and force Taipei into reunification talks.

According to reports, Taiwan has surface-to-air and anti-ship missiles stationed on Dongyin. The island is home for approximately 1,500 civilians. Dongyin, which is located at the point where invading air and naval units could pass it if attacked from the north, is a target of Chinese force. 

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Officials from Taiwan’s defense said that on February 5th, a Chinese civil aircraft flew very close to Dongyin. This was possibly in order to check its reaction.

TsaiIng-wen (Taiwanese president) ordered the military and security forces of Taiwan to increase their combat readiness, and increased surveillance. Also last month, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned that if Ukraine’s independence is endangered by Russia, “the shock will echo around the world, and those echoes will be heard in east Asia, will be heard in Taiwan. People would draw the conclusion that aggression pays and that might is right.”

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