Taiwan's Han Kuang War Games Show Signs Of Escalating Tensions With China

Taiwan is getting ready for its annual war games as tension between Taipei and Beijing have been heating up over recent weeks.

Known as the Han Kuang drills, the exercise is a massive military-wide drill that takes place in the late spring in Taiwan.

The purpose of Han Kuang is very straightforward: to simulate an invasion from China and how the military would rebuff attacks.

According to reports from government sources, the drills began on April 30th with computer-aided war games and are set to shift into live fire exercises through to June 8th.

This year’s maneuvers will also have some unique features. Coast Guard Administration (CGA) vessels and National Airborne Service (NAS) Corps aircraft will participate in the drill to test joint combat capabilities with other branches.

Additionally, non-military elements will have parts in the drills. For the first time, civilian Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) companies and their operators will join military units for the live-fire drill. Civilian construction companies will also take part in the drill to simulate the repairing of airstrips after a hit by Chinese airstrikes. "It's not just soldiers' duties to protect the country,” said a defense ministry spokesman commenting on this decision. “Everyone has the responsibility since our defense budget is limited."

The Han Kuang drills come on the heels of China’s naval maneuvers in the Taiwan Strait. Taipei dismissed China's military exercises last week as "routine" after the expected large-scale naval drills failed to materialize. Officials called it "cheap intimidation” and mere “saber-rattling." While Taiwan may look down on China’s recent drills, in truth, the exercises did consist of a small flotilla of vessels that conducted live-fire simulations, all clearly designed to intimidate its neighbor.

As a result, this year’s war games in Taipei are being pitched as a “response” to those Chinese drills. President Tsai Ing-wen herself is expected to preside over the exercise.

Even more disconcerting is the breaking announcement from China that the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force has recently organized real-combat military training around Taiwan Island.

Hopefully, this schism in the China Sea will remain in drill-form and not turn into an actual war. 

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