Agence France Presse
Beijing, June 1:
China was today gearing up for joint military wargames aimed at â€œtaking control of the Taiwan Strait,â€ with 18,000 troops backed by guided missiles preparing a mock amphibious landing on Taiwan, officials and state press reports said. â€œIt is necessary and rational for China to hold military exercises for the sake of national defence,â€ foreign ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao told journalists at a regular briefing. The exercises were to take place in June and July on Dongshan Island in southeastern Fujian province just 150 nautical miles west of Taiwanâ€™s Penghu Island, the New Express Daily said, citing a pro-Beijing Hong Kong newspaper. The 18,000 soldiers will be deployed from the land, navy and air force of the Nanjing Military Region, where some 500 short-range ballistic missiles are pointed at Taiwan.