In a display of preparedness and resilience, Taiwan recently held extensive air raid drills simulating its response to potential missile attacks from China. The exercises took place in several cities across the island nation earlier this week, coinciding with the commencement of its annual military war games.

Lessons from Ukraine: Taiwan’s Comprehensive Approach to National Defense

Taiwan, a self-governing island, has been increasingly facing military and political pressure from China, which claims the island as part of its territory. In response to the escalating threats, Taiwan has been conducting regular defense drills, not only for its military but also for its civilian population.

Drawing from the lessons learned from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, where street-to-street warfare played a crucial role, Taiwan’s authorities have amplified their efforts to prepare citizens for potential emergencies. The drills seek to educate residents on evacuation procedures and equip them with the essential knowledge to minimize damage and casualties during a missile attack.

Fortifying Taiwan’s Defense

The recent air raid drills, codenamed “Wan An” (Everlasting Peace), were carried out in seven northern Taiwanese cities. As the sirens wailed to signal an incoming missile attack, volunteers guided residents to nearby underground evacuation shelters. The civilians participated in emergency scenarios, crouching to the ground and covering their eyes and ears for added safety.

In one exercise conducted in Taipei’s southeastern Nangan district, firefighters demonstrated their response to a blaze caused by a simulated missile attack on a train station. The scenario showcased the coordinated efforts of rescue teams in a crisis situation.

One participant interviewed by AFP highlighted the importance of these drills in light of China’s military threats, saying that “Taiwan’s international situation is more special because of the China factor,” emphasizing the practicality of the exercises in preparing the public for potential contingencies.

The “Wan An” air defense exercises will continue to take place across Taiwan until Thursday, ensuring that as many citizens as possible are trained and prepared for emergencies. These drills aim to instill a sense of readiness and resilience, as well as public awareness, and foster a sense of unity and collective responsibility in the face of mounting regional tensions.

In parallel, Taiwan is currently conducting its most extensive annual military exercises, codenamed “Han Kuan” (Han Glory), simulating its defense against an attack from Beijing’s army. The drill involves fighter jets and transport planes taking off from various bases on the island, showcasing the nation’s formidable air force capabilities.

However, the scheduled drills at the southern Taitung airport were canceled due to the approach of Typhoon Doksuri in Southeast Asia, underscoring the need for flexibility and adaptability during such maneuvers.

Historical Roots of Cross-Strait Tensions and Escalating Military Posturing

Beijing’s escalating military posturing against Taiwan has roots in the long-standing historical and political complexities between the two entities. The tension originates from the Chinese Civil War, which concluded in 1949 when the Communist Party of China, led by Mao Zedong, emerged victorious and established the People’s Republic of China (PRC) on the mainland. The defeated Kuomintang (KMT) government, led by Chiang Kai-shek, retreated to Taiwan and established the Republic of China (ROC) government, which continued to claim authority over all of China.

Over the decades, the geopolitical landscape shifted, with the PRC gaining recognition as the legitimate representative of China on the global stage and the ROC’s representation becoming limited to Taiwan and a few diplomatic allies. Despite this, Taiwan has maintained its own government, political system, and distinct identity, evolving into a vibrant democracy and a prosperous economy.

However, Beijing’s stance remains firm, asserting that Taiwan is an integral part of China and viewing any actions suggesting Taiwanese independence or formal separation as a threat to its territorial integrity. As a result, China has consistently used diplomatic, economic, and military measures to pressure Taiwan and dissuade other countries from engaging in official relations with the island.

The military aspect of this tension has seen a particularly notable increase in recent years. China has conducted numerous military exercises and warplane incursions into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ), which is the airspace surrounding Taiwan that is monitored for potential threats. These actions are perceived as saber-rattling and a show of force to assert Beijing’s military capabilities and territorial claims.

The situation remains complex and delicate, with cross-strait relations continuing to be a significant factor in regional security dynamics. The international community closely monitors these developments, seeking to balance interests and stability in the Indo-Pacific region while respecting the principles of sovereignty and self-determination for all parties involved.