mandag 11. april 2022

‘It feels like the end of the world’: Taiwan civilians practise for war as Ukraine revives China fears

On a muggy night in a Taipei park, its concrete pavilion lit by the glow from nearby lampposts, a dozen people spread yoga mats and plastic bags on the floor. The atmosphere is convivial and relaxed as they warm up, taking turns to lead the group through exercises copied from US army basic training videos online. They practise drills, dragging each other as injured deadweights, out of the way of a fictional harm.

The scene, inside the charming Da’an Park, is made all the more incongruous by the pavilion’s other visitors: young people on dates or in study groups, a couple practising bachata dancing to tinny Latin music.

But there is a seriousness among those here. The group is preparing for, well, anything. Taiwan has been under the threat of invasion for decades, but the ratcheting up of Chinese military missions and government rhetoric in recent years, and last month’s attack on Ukraine by Xi Jinping’s key ally Vladimir Putin, have set nerves on edge. Beijing claims Taiwan as a Chinese province and has sworn to “unify” it, by force if necessary.