Taiwan holds massive Han Kuan military exercise amid rising tensions with China

In response, the Taiwanese military scrambled Indigenous Defense Fighter (IDF) aircraft and tanks into the air, while ground troops detonated explosives to halt the advance.

The scenes are part of the weekly exercises of the hero Han Kuang through Taiwan and its outlying islands until Friday. This annual event has been held since 1984 and involves all branches of Taiwan’s armed forces, including its reserve forces, in order to improve overall defense capability.

This year’s exercise has taken on greater significance amid growing concerns about China’s intentions for Taiwan, a self-governing island that Beijing’s ruling Communist Party claims as its own.

These fears were heightened Russian invasion of Ukraine. Beijing has not ruled out using force to take control of Taiwan and is putting increasing military pressure on the island by sending planes into its self-proclaimed air defense identification zone.
Beijing also reacted harshly to reports that the speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi is considering a trip to Taipeiwarning that the Chinese military would “resolutely defend national sovereignty” if faced with “outside forces” promoting Taiwanese independence.
The Biden administration is working behind the scenes to convince Pelosi of the risks of traveling to Taiwan

“China requires the US to take concrete action to fulfill its commitment not to support ‘Taiwan independence’ and not to arrange for Pelosi to visit Taiwan,” Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Tang Kefei said on Tuesday when answering questions about Pelosi’s trip to Taipei.

“If the United States insists on its own, the Chinese military will never sit idly by and will definitely take decisive action to prevent the interference of any external forces and separatist plans for “Taiwan independence”, resolutely defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity. “Tang added.

Weekly military exercises

Han Kuang is the largest annual live fire exercise held every year in Taiwan, a democratically governed island of 24 million people.

On Tuesday, in front of Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, the military islands simulated an attack on Suao Naval Base, a major military port in northeast Taiwan, with his forces playing the role of both aggressor and defender.

For two hours, Mirage 2000s and F-16s were airborne to intercept military aircraft invading from the east; helicopters played cat and mouse with submarines; and guided missile destroyers fired cannons, rockets, and torpedoes at an imaginary armada approaching the shore.

The exercise demonstrates “the ability and determination of our armed forces to defend our country,” Tsai later told the troops.

It is likely that the Chinese military will be among those showing the most interest in the results of the exercise.

A helicopter and a submarine take part in a military live-fire exercise in Taiwan July 26.

On Monday, a Chinese combat and reconnaissance drone flew over Japan’s Miyako Strait before stalling in airspace off Taiwan’s east coast, according to a flight path released by Japan’s defense ministry.

The drills are also meant to teach residents how to react if Taiwan comes under attack.

On Monday afternoon, traffic in Taipei was shut down for 30 minutes and residents took shelter as air raid sirens wailed over the city. Similar exercises are being held throughout Taiwan until the end of the week.

The Taipei government said the purpose of the air raid exercise was to educate the public on the location of bomb shelters “in case of war”.

Empty streets during an air defense exercise in Taipei on July 25.

Growing threat from China

Both the US and Taiwan have warned that the island is under increasing military pressure from Beijing.

This is partly confirmed by the number of times China sent its warplanes to Taiwan’s self-proclaimed air defense identification zone, including 56 planes in just one day last October. In response, Taiwan had to fly combat aircraft, issue radio warnings and deploy anti-aircraft missile systems to monitor the actions.

Taiwan’s defense minister Chiu Guo-cheng said last year that China could mount a “full-scale” invasion by 2025, adding that military tensions across the strait were at “the most serious” point in more than 40 years since. how he joined the military.

Since then, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and China’s refusal to condemn Moscow’s actions have fueled rumors about Beijing’s intentions.

CIA director Bill Burns said last week that China is looking closely at Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, considering “how and when” it might decide to invade Taiwan. “I wouldn’t underestimate President Xi’s determination to assert China’s control,” Burns said.

Aircraft take part in Taiwan's Han Kuang military live-fire exercise July 26.

Such assessments drew attention to how Taiwan might best respond in the event of an invasion.

Chang Yanting, Taiwan’s former deputy air force commander, told CNN that Taiwan needs to learn from Ukraine in dealing with larger invading forces and accelerate the development of its asymmetric warfare capabilities.

He said that instead of focusing on conventional weapons like tanks, Taiwan should develop and procure new long-range missiles that could hit Chinese military installations in the event of war.

“Taiwan is different from Ukraine in that we are an island and densely populated, so it will be difficult for residents to evacuate Taiwan if a war breaks out,” Chang said.

Consequently, the Taiwanese military should focus its strategy on blocking a Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) landing in the first place, rather than retreating inland and risking battles in densely populated cities.

“We must prioritize an asymmetric warfare strategy that prevents Taiwan from becoming a war zone,” he said. “We can do this by urgently increasing our long-range strike capability so that we can hit enemy targets and destroy their forces in (Chinese) Fujian if they launch an attack or try to cross the Taiwan Strait.”

“In this way, we will be able to protect the lives of our ordinary citizens as much as possible, as well as the financial capital that our people have worked so hard to create on our soil over the past seven decades.”