Taiwan conducts missile live-firing test

AFP , Monday 3 Jul 2023

Taiwan kicked off a two-day missile live-firing test on Monday ahead of its largest annual military exercises as the island ramps up preparations against an increasingly assertive China.

Taiwanese soldier launches a US-made TOW A2 missile
Taiwanese soldier launches a US-made TOW A2 missile during a live firing exercise in Pingtung county on July 3, 2023. AFP


The 23 million Taiwanese people live under constant threat of invasion by Beijing, which views the island democracy as part of its territory to be seized one day.

Soldiers fired US-made TOW 2A anti-tank missiles in southern Pingtung county on Monday in an exercise aimed at "enhancing defence operations based on practicality", defence ministry spokesman Sun Li-fang said.

"So our soldiers could have the confidence and capability at wartime, and execute their responsibility to defend the country," he told reporters.

The missile firings come as relations between Taipei and Beijing are increasingly strained, with China conducting two major military exercises around Taiwan in the past year.

The latest was in April, when Beijing simulated targeted strikes on Taiwan and encirclement of the island. State media also reported dozens of planes practising an "aerial blockade".

Those war games were in response to President Tsai Ing-wen's meeting with US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in California that month.

Monday's and Tuesday's missile tests come against the backdrop of aerial and naval manoeuvres by Beijing in and around the Taiwan Strait, a 180-kilometre-wide (122-mile-wide) passage between the island and mainland China.

Eight Chinese warplanes approached Taiwan's contiguous zone, the band of sea within 24 nautical miles (44 kilometres) of its coast, last month.

In May, China's Shandong aircraft carrier group sailed through the Taiwan Strait in a rare voyage.

Relations have not fared better in the diplomatic sphere. Since the election of Tsai, who rejects China's claim to Taiwan, Beijing has refused to speak with her government.

Taiwan's immigration department announced last week it had rejected applications by Chinese tourism officials to visit the island for a mid-July international travel fair.

Citing the "overall cross-strait situation", the immigration agency said there were doubts about the "necessity, urgency and irreplaceability" of the participation of Chinese tourism officials. Only tourism operators from China had their visas approved.

Short link: