China to hold drills on Taiwan Strait

Associated Press

Beijing, July 4:

China’s military will hold exercises this month across the Taiwan Strait, a newspaper said, as Beijing builds up its capability to back up its frequent threats to invade the rival island. The annual summer exercises will be held this year on Dongshan Island off the Chinese coast and will include air, sea and land forces, the China Youth Daily said today. China’s military holds such drills at different points along the coast facing Taiwan every summer, practising beach landings and attacks on shore targets by ships and warplanes. China has threatened repeatedly to invade Taiwan, which has been ruled separately since 1949. But the 2.5 million-member People’s Liberation Army has until recently lacked the ability to carry out a war across the 160 km-wide Taiwan Strait.

Beijing has spent heavily in on expanding the PLA’s naval arm, building warships and landing craft that could support an invasion and help blockade Taiwan. The reference by the China Youth Daily to joint air, sea and land drills this year highlights recent efforts by Beijing to integrate its forces for complex maneuvers — a key part of any possible attack on Taiwan but one in which China lacks experience. Chinese officials say the annual military drills are routine, but state-controlled media often highlight their focus on capturing islands, a message clearly meant to intimidate Taiwan.