April 21, 2021

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Taiwan rehearses to fire real bullets on disputed islands

2 min read


The Taiwan Coast Guard held a live-fire drills on the Dongsha archipelago, while tensions with mainland China escalated.

The Taiwanese Coast Guard on March 1 warned that ships and aircraft would not enter the “danger zone” 8 nautical miles wide, with a maximum height of 3,600 meters around the Dongsha archipelago during the period from 8:00 to 21:00 practice to shoot real bullets here. A real fire drill is scheduled to take place on March 9 with the same time frame.

These are two of the exercises planned by the Taiwan Coast Guard. The exercises are held amid escalating tensions in the Taiwan Strait, when the Chinese army almost every day sends military aircraft to the island or fly over the Dongsha archipelago. , which is controlled by the forces of Taipei.

The Dongsha Islands are controlled by Taiwan. Image: CNA.

The Dongsha Islands, 450 km from Kaohsiung, are one of the features in the South China Sea controlled by Taiwan, but mainland China also claims sovereignty over the islands.

Since 2000, Taiwan has deployed police stationed in the Dong Sa archipelago. In 2020, the Taiwan defense agency said it had deployed Marines to a short-term garrison on the Dongsha Islands while the Chinese army held exercises in the area.

The Taiwanese defense force at that time did not disclose the number of marines or when they arrived or left the Dongsha archipelago. A Taiwanese defense official said this group of Marines is tasked with enhancing the defensive capabilities and equipment maintenance and logistics skills for the coast guard stationed in Dongsha.

Dong Sa archipelago location (marked in red).  Graphics: Google.

Dong Sa archipelago location (marked in red). Graphics: Google.

China has always considered Taiwan a part of territory awaiting reunification, claiming to use force if necessary. The Chinese army held many state-of-the-art exercises in the Taiwan Strait. Chinese Ministry of Defense spokesman Wu Khiem on February 28 warned that the independence of Taiwan island “means war”.

Nguyen Tien (Follow FocusTaiwan)

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