Taiwan military stages night drills amid China threat

STORY: Flares lit up targets on a mountain side at a base in Taiwan’s far-southern Pingtung County while tanks and cannons fired in almost complete darkness.

Apache attack helicopters, Ching-kuo Indigenous Defence Fighters, artillery and drones were expected to feature in the drills in Pingtung.

While the drills were part of a regular round of exercises that happen annually, this year the focus was on the threat Taiwan is facing from its neighbour China.

“Although communist China has recently incessantly made moves towards us, trying to incite disputes, we will still carry on with exercises in the spirit of preparing for war without seeking war,” said Huang Jingfeng, a commanding battalion officer leading the exercise.

Earlier on Tuesday, Taiwan president Tsai Ing-wen addressed the soldiers, saying the combat skills of Taiwan's military are now "more mature", having to repeatedly scramble to see off Chinese forces during their recent drills.

China staged war games in the immediate aftermath of U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taipei last month, and have continued military activities close to Taiwan since then.

Taiwan's armed forces are well-equipped but dwarfed by China's. Tsai has been overseeing a modernisation programme and has made increasing defence spending a priority.

Taiwan has set defence as the theme for this year's October 10 national day, with the slogan "You and me join together to protect the land and defend the country", organisers said on Tuesday.

Taiwan's democratically-elected government says that since the People's Republic of China has never ruled the island, it has no right to claim it or decide its future, which can only be set by Taiwan's people. China on the other hand, claims Taiwan as part of its territory, and has never renounced the use of force to bring the island under its control.