torsdag 23. september 2021

Second line of defence: Taiwan’s civilians train to resist invasion

On a quiet workday morning last week, air raid sirens rang out across Taiwan. The eerie wailing horn would be the first warning to the island’s 23.5 million residents of an incoming attack by their neighbour across the Taiwan Strait, the People’s Republic of China.

On the streets of the capital, Taipei, people carried on with their day, just as they did when an earthquake drill on Friday told them to “stop, drop and hide” in mass text alerts, and just as they do when China sends dozens of air force planes screeching towards Taiwan.

The world is becoming increasingly familiar with Beijing’s claim over Taiwan as a breakaway province, and its pledge to one day “unify”, by force if necessary. Taiwan’s population has lived with the threat day in and day out, but as the danger grows, experts warn the public is not ready.

Analysts say China is closer to being capable of invading Taiwan than it has been in decades, but is not there yet. The potential nature and timing of any conflict is hotly debated, as is the involvement of other countries in support of Taiwan. But after decades of Chinese military modernisation, and significant uptick in aggressive or intimidatory acts in the last 18 months, there are growing concerns about Taiwan’s ability to defend itself.