6 June 2024

Taiwan held air raid drills simulating its response to Chinese missile attacks in several cities on Monday, the same day the island’s military kicked off its annual war games.

Self-ruled Taiwan holds frequent defence drills in the face of increasing military and political pressures from China, which regards the island as its territory.

Preparation efforts also extend to its civilian population, with authorities stepping up drills in cities, citing lessons learned from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine where the street-to-street warfare appears to be part of the defence strategy playbook.

“Because of the ongoing Ukraine-Russian war, the importance of the drill is for our residents to know how to evacuate,” said Tsai Yin-fong, who organised Monday’s evacuation in Taipei’s Neihu district.

Residents in seven counties across northern Taiwan were subjected to emergency scenarios as part of Taiwan’s “Wan An” air defence exercises, which translates to “everlasting peace”.

As the sirens sounded in Neihu to signal an incoming missile attack, volunteers guided residents to nearby underground evacuation shelters, where they crouched to the ground and covered their eyes and ears.

Local residents take shelter during the Wanan Air Raid Drill, a civilian air-raid held on the day of the annual Han Kuang military exercise, in Taipei on July 24, 2023. (Photo by Jameson WU / AFP)

In Taipei’s southeastern Nangang district, firefighters simulated putting out a blaze caused by a missile attack on a train station, aiming their hoses at the building, and then rescuing a civilian from it.

Government employee Wu Kai-te, who had hidden in an underground parking lot as part of the drill, said these exercises were necessary because of China’s military threats.”

Taiwan’s international situation is more special because of the China factor,” the 37-year-old told AFP.

“It’s very practical for the public and it teaches us the right poses to take to avoid more damage during a missile attack.”

The air raid drills will continue across Taiwan until Thursday.

Taiwan is also currently holding its largest annual military drills, known as “Han Kuang” (Han Glory), to simulate how it would fend off an attack from Beijing’s army.

Fighter jets and transport planes took off Monday from bases across the island, with Taiwan’s defence ministry saying that the exercises “showcased the formidable capabilities of our air force”.

But drills scheduled for Tuesday in the southern Taitung airport were cancelled as Typhoon Doksuri in Southeast Asia edges closer to Taiwan.

Beijing’s sabre-rattling against Taiwan has intensified in recent years, with near-daily incursions by warplanes into the island’s air defence zone.

The Chinese military has also held two massive drills in waters around Taiwan, simulating targeted strikes and a blockade of the island.

By Agence France-Presse