In a sign of the growing tensions between China and the American ally Taiwan, the island nation is conducting annual military drills that included fending off a simulated Chinese assault on its territory, according to Defense News.
This is due to a perceived threat from across the Taiwan Strait, because the mainland China government claims that Taiwan is its own territory and can be brought under its control by force if necessary.
Units from the Taiwan army, navy and air force were deployed for Thursday’s drills on the Penghu Islands archipelago, which consists of 90 islands and islets in the Taiwan Strait, Defense News reported.
They featured tanks, rocket launchers, assault helicopters and soldiers using shoulder-fired missiles to repel a potential amphibious landing force invading from the People’s Republic of China on a massive scale — an Asian version of D-Day.
Warships also maneuvered offshore and fighter jets deployed flares.
According to Newsweek, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen wore a camouflage helmet and flak jacket as she watched over the live-fire drills.
“When Taiwan shows its determination to take the road of defensive autonomy, it is putting on a display to the world of our determination to protect our home and land,” she said at a military base in Penghu.
Pictures published from the war games showed missiles blasting off from trucks and arcing across fields, and soldiers jumping from black helicopters.
While the military exercise comes during a time of deteriorating relations between Taiwan and China, relations between the United States and the mainland government are also strained over China’s territorial claims in the the South China Sea.
A U.S. Navy warship sailed within 12 miles of an artificial island built by China, causing China to lodge “stern representations” with the U.S. It was an operation that showed a new firmness by the Trump administration in its dealings with Beijing.
The United States has often criticized China’s construction of the man-made islands and the build-up of military facilities in the sea, concerned they could be used to restrict free movement.
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