Agence France Presse

Beijing, June 1:

China was today gearing up for joint military wargames aimed at “taking control of the Taiwan Strait,” with 18,000 troops backed by guided missiles preparing a mock amphibious landing on Taiwan, officials and state press reports said. “It is necessary and rational for China to hold military exercises for the sake of national defence,” 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 Taiwan’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.