‘Missile alert’: Taiwan conducts air raid drills amid tension in China

TAIPEI (Reuters) – Roads were emptied and people were ordered to stay home in parts of Taiwan, including its capital, Taipei, on Monday for an air raid drill as the island ramped up preparations in the event of a Chinese attack.

Sirens sounded at 1:30 p.m. (0530 GMT) for mandatory street evacuation drills, which effectively shut down towns and cities across northern Taiwan for 30 minutes.

A “missile alert” was sent out via text message telling people to evacuate to safety immediately.

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“It is necessary to make preparations in case of war,” Taipei Mayor Koo Win Jie said in a speech after supervising the exercises for the maneuver named Wan An, which means lasting peace.

China claims that Taiwan ruled democratically as its territory and has never ruled out the capture of the island by force. Taiwan rejects China’s claim to sovereignty and vows to defend itself.

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“Chinese military aircraft frequently harassed Taiwan in recent years until the outbreak of the Russo-Ukrainian war in February, and these incidents remind us that we need to be vigilant in times of peace,” Koo said.

In Taipei, police directed vehicles to move to the side of the road and pedestrians were asked to seek shelter. Shops and restaurants have closed their doors and turned off the lights to avoid becoming a target in the event of a nighttime attack.

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Firefighters trained to put out a fire caused by a missile attack.

The siren sounded after 30 minutes to give everything.

Concern about China’s intentions toward Taiwan has heightened tension with the United States, which, while not recognizing the island as a separate country, is obligated under US law to provide it with the means to defend itself.

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Spokesman Zhao Lijian told a daily press briefing that the Chinese side will take “strong” measures if the visit continues.

Taiwan law requires periodic air raid drills.

The island has raised its alert level since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, although no unusual Chinese military activity has been reported.

Other parts of Taiwan will conduct street evacuation drills this week. The exercise has been canceled for the past two years due to COVID-19.

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen has made strengthening defense capacity a priority and said that only her own people can decide their own future.

“When everyone gets the text message, don’t panic,” Tsai said in a reminder to the public on Facebook early Monday. “Citizens, please evacuate as directed.”

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Additional reporting by Yimo Lee, Fabian Hammacher and Ann Wang; Editing by Robert Persell

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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