Amid tensions between China and Taiwan in the South China Sea, there are reports that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is planning to conduct a large scale landing drill off Hainan Island to simulate the possible invasion of the Taiwanese-held Pratas Island.
According to Taiwan News, with manoeuvres on an “unprecedented scale” the exercise will be carried out by the Southern Theater Command and will include large numbers of marines, landing ships, hovercrafts, and helicopters.
Pratas Island, commonly known as the Dongsha island carries strategic importance for China as it one-third of the world’s shipping passes through it. China’s first domestically built aircraft carrier, the Shandong which was deployed last year near the base on Hainanhas further led to pressurising the Chinese military to capture the island.
Earlier EurAsian Times reported, China sent fighter jets and surveillance aircraft well inside the halfway mark of the Taiwan Strait that separates Taiwan from China on March 16, 2020.
Taiwanese media quoted Maj. Gen. Lin Wen-Huang, who heads an operations and planning office at the Taiwan Defence Ministry saying that they are monitoring movements of “hostile forces” and that the contingency plan is in place for the South China Sea.
The US and China have been engaged in a bitter dispute and have been showing off its military might in the contented waterbody. The US has been flying near Pratas island to “gather intelligence” on Chinese activities.
Taiwan is firmly supported by the US and other western and regional powers. US President Donald Trump has been strengthening its relationship with Taiwanese leader Tsai Ing-wen. The US has accused China of bullying Taiwan under the cover of coronavirus pandemic.
As EurAsian Times earlier reported, China has not allowed the coronavirus to get in its way of muscle-flexing. In February when China was locked in a severe battle against the coronavirus, locking down its entire city of Wuhan, it was also sending its jet fighters into Taiwanese airspace, claimed Alexander Huang of Tamkang University.
In the latest incident of China’s aggressive and threatening manoeuvres, Beijing sent fighter jets and surveillance aircraft well inside the halfway mark of the Taiwan Strait that separates Taiwan from China on March 16 2020.
In addition, the Taiwan coastguard said that one of the Chinese speedboats rammed into Kinmen islands which is hardly 5 km from Taiwan. All the offensive manoeuvres by Beijing had forced Taiwan’s deputy defence minister to warn China saying, “At the height of the coronavirus pandemic worldwide, if Chinese Communists attempted to make any regional military adventure leading to a regional conflict, they would be severely condemned by the world. We are all ready and have made the best preparation.”
In fact, Taiwan has been so unnerved by Chinese hostile tactics that it conducted a mock combat drill in Yuanshan, south-east of Taipei which was intended to repel any Chinese aggression. The drills were carried out not on Taiwan’s borders but well inside a city suggesting that Taiwan is gearing for a battle to fight till the end.