Taiwan starts live-fire artillery exercise amid China maneuvers

TAIPEI:  In response to China's continued military manoeuvres near the island, Taiwan started its regular live-fire artillery drills on Tuesday.

The Tien Lei drill, also known as a live ammunition artillery practise, was announced in late July with the intention of simulating Taiwan's defence against an attack by the People's Liberation Army (PLA) of China, as per reports.

It was scheduled for this week on Tuesday and Thursday as part of Taiwan's annual Han Kuang exercises, but it coincides with rising tensions and soon after China announced it will extend massive air and sea operations to Taiwan's north, south, and east that were set to end on Sunday.  No brand-new official end date has been disclosed.
Tuesday, Taiwanese television said that during the military practise in Pingtung county in the island's south, close to a zone previously designated by the Chinese army for its drill, flares were launched in coastal areas.

The expansion of China's military operations close to Taiwan has been denounced by Taipei's foreign ministry. Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said at a news conference that "China's real purpose behind these military exercises is to disrupt the status quo in the Taiwan Strait and the entire region."

Wu said, Beijing's extensive military drills, missile launches, and cyberattacks are all part of its "military playbook to prepare for the invasion of Taiwan."  They were tactics to "weaken public morale," he said, on the island.

On August 2, China began its military exercises in retaliation for US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's trip to Taiwan.

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