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Taiwan stages war and disaster drills after Chinese exercise

#Taiwan #stages #war #disaster #drills #Chinese #exercise

Screaming citizens reacted to everything from missile strikes to a chemical weapons blast and a deadly metro station attack during disaster-preparedness drills in Taiwan on Thursday.

More than 1,000 volunteers enacted this alarming range of potential disasters and more in the wake of China’s latest war games that ended only three days earlier.

The emergency scenarios played out in Taichung city had emergency workers rushing to evacuate the wounded on stretchers, and dead mannequins being carted away in body bags.

“I am proud to be Taiwanese and I believe in our country. We need to learn more about disaster prevention and war,” said local government worker Chang Wei-chen, 40.

“It will be helpful to us.”

Self-ruled Taiwan is on high alert after Beijing staged three days of military drills that simulated “sealing off” the island.

China claims democratic Taiwan as its own territory and has vowed to take it one day, by force if necessary. 

Chinese jets and warships have continued circling Taiwan even after the conclusion of the massive drills.

Taiwan’s defence ministry detected seven Chinese naval vessels and 26 aircraft between Wednesday and Thursday morning.

It said 14 aircraft had crossed the unofficial median line that separates the island from mainland China. 

The pre-planned exercises in Taichung usually focus on disasters.

This year, however, war scenarios accounted for the majority of the drills that put a mix of civilians, firefighters, soldiers and students through their paces.

Explosions sounded in one scenario as flares were launched at a residential building to simulate a missile strike, while loudspeakers declared an attack by “Communist China”.

Fire engines rushed to the scene, sirens blaring, as diggers and cranes worked to remove fake debris.

In another, coloured gas was released to simulate a chemical attack in which a crew of hazmat-suited responders saved an unconscious civilian caught in the crossfire.

TV screens aired breaking news showing a crisis meeting of officials.

– ‘We are determined’ –

The island’s authorities have been readying civilians for an outbreak of conflict, as well as stepping up military spending and training for reservists.

Air raid drills were held across Taiwan last year and a handbook was given to residents to prepare for a Chinese invasion.

Thursday’s exercise was part of that wider effort after two rounds of Chinese war games in the past year and increasingly bellicose threats from the Chinese government under President Xi Jinping.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has also stoked fears that Beijing now has a roadmap for annexing its smaller neighbour. 

Several drills appeared to mirror situations seen in bombarded Ukrainian cities, including rescue work from collapsed buildings.

They also included a blast at a petroleum facility and an attack knocking out telecommunications.

Thursday’s drill was the first in a series of 11 that will take place across Taiwan until July.

“These mock exercises help us cooperate better with government and civilian groups and help build teamwork,” said Cheng Ho-chen, a 55-year-old mechanic turned search-and-rescue volunteer.

Officials looking on said being prepared was more important than ever.

“What happened in the Taiwan Strait during the last few days has the whole world watching and raised the concerns of our fellow citizens,” Taichung mayor Lu Shiow-yen told reporters.

“We are telling the world we are determined to protect our country and safeguard our homeland.”

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#Taiwan #stages #war #disaster #drills #Chinese #exercise

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