Taiwan holds military drill ahead of China-Russia wargames
AFP | August 17 2005
Taiwan Wednesday staged a military exercise simulating an invasion by rival China, one day before Beijing and Moscow launch rare joint exercises.
Television footage showed hundreds of fully armed soldiers landing on a beach off the town of Linko, 30 kilometers (19 miles) south of Taipei, as jet fighters streaked overhead.
In the scenario involving some 3,000 troops, Taiwanese forces drove off mock People's Liberation Army soldiers who crossed the Taiwan Strait and tried to seize the capital city through Linko, a navy spokesman said.
He played down the significance of the exercise, saying it was "routine".
The elite marine brigade involved in the exercise was moved earlier this year from the south of the island to Linko.
On Thursday China and Russia are to begin rare week-long joint exercises involving nearly 10,000 troops aimed at strengthening their ability to fight terrorism and separatism.
The drills, known as "Peace Mission 2005", will start at Vladivostok and will later move to the Yellow Sea and the area off the Jiaodong peninsula in eastern China's Shandong province.
They have aroused keen interest in Washington, which will attempt to monitor them, Brigadier General Carter Ham of the US Joint Staff said earlier this month.
The Pentagon in a report last month said China could launch a surprise attack using short-range missiles and precision air strikes to "decapitate" Taiwan's political and military leadership before the United States or other countries could intervene.
The report also said China's continued arms buildup is tipping the balance against Taiwan and could pose a credible threat to other armies in the region.
China has deployed up to 730 ballistic missiles opposite the island which it regards as part of its territory, the report said.
Relations between China and Taiwan, which split in 1949 at the end of a civil war, have worsened since independence-leaning Chen Shui-bian was elected president in 2000. He was re-elected last year.
China has vowed to attack Taiwan should the island declare formal independence.