Taiwan holds military drill amid rising tensions with China
Taipei conducts a military drill and accuses China of wanting to "alter the status quo".
Taiwan held an artillery drill Tuesday simulating defense against an attack, as its top diplomat accused Beijing of preparing to invade the island after large-scale Chinese drills.
China launched its largest-ever air and sea exercises around Taiwan last week following US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taipei.
"China has used the drills and its military playbook to prepare for the invasion of Taiwan," Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu told a press conference in Taipei on Tuesday, claiming that Beijing is using Pelosi's visit as a pretext for military action.
"China's real intention is to alter the status quo in the Taiwan Strait and entire region," he claimed.
Washington said it did not expect an escalation from Beijing
Taipei's drill started in the southern county of Pingtung shortly after 0040 GMT with the firing of target flares and artillery, ending just under an hour later at 0130 GMT, said Lou Woei-jye, spokesperson for Taiwan's Eighth Army Corps.
Soldiers fired from howitzers tucked into the coast, hidden from view of the road that leads to popular beach destination Kenting.
The drills, which will continue Thursday, included the deployment of hundreds of troops and about 40 howitzers, the army said.
On Monday, Lou claimed that the drills had been scheduled previously and were not in response to China's exercises.
The anti-landing exercises come after China extended its own joint sea and air drills around Taiwan on Monday, but Washington said it did not expect an escalation from Beijing.
"I'm not worried, but I'm concerned they're moving as much as they are. But I don't think they're going to do anything more than they are," US President Joe Biden told reporters at Dover Air Force Base.
Taiwan thanks Western allies, including the US
Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu condemned Beijing for extending its military exercises around the island, accusing it of trying to control the Taiwan Strait and waters in the wider Asia-Pacific region.
"It is conducting large-scale military exercises and missile launches, as well as cyber-attacks, a disinformation campaign and economic coercion in order to weaken public morale in Taiwan," he claimed.
Wu went on to thank Western allies, including the US after Pelosi's visit, for standing up to China.
PLA: Exercises were aimed at enhancing ability of air & sea units
Taiwan claims that no Chinese warplanes or ships entered its territorial waters -- within 12 nautical miles of land -- during Beijing's drills.
The Chinese military, however, released a video last week of an air force pilot filming the island's coastline and mountains from his cockpit, showing how close it had come to Taiwan's shores.
Ballistic missiles were fired over Taiwan's capital, Taipei, during the exercises last week, according to Chinese state media.
On Tuesday, the Chinese military released more details about the anti-submarine drills it had conducted a day earlier around the island.
The People's Liberation Army's Eastern Theater Command said the exercises were aimed at enhancing the ability of air and sea units to work together while hunting submarines.
It said maritime patrol aircraft, fighter jets, helicopters, and a destroyer practiced locating and attacking targets in the waters off Taiwan.
"Firm, forceful, and appropriate"
On Monday, Beijing described its behavior as "firm, forceful, and appropriate" to US provocation.
Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin pointed out that "(We) are only issuing a warning to the perpetrators."
China would "firmly smash the Taiwan authorities' illusion of gaining independence through the US," Wang told a regular briefing.
"We urge the US to do some earnest reflection, and immediately correct its mistakes," he added.
It is noteworthy that China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi had said the Chinese government will undoubtedly complete the process of reunification with Taiwan.
Commenting on Pelosi's visit to Taiwan, Wang affirmed that "Taiwan is a part of China. The implementation of national reunification is a general trend and historic imminence."