Taiwan rocket drills near Dongsha Islands to simulate defense against Chinese invasion

Published (HKT): 2021.04.06 05:55

Taiwan’s coast guard will conduct live-fire drills near the Dongsha Islands to simulate a response to a landing force from mainland China, officials announced on Sunday.

The military exercises will take place from April 25 to May 2 near Dongsha, also known as the Pratas Islands, in the northern part of the South China Sea. They will cover an area with a radius of eight nautical miles and a height of up to 12,000 feet.

The drills will feature the Kestrel anti-armor rocket, a shoulder-launched, disposable system developed by Taiwan’s National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology. It can fire warheads for destroying tanks and structures, penetrating brick walls 30 centimeters thick, with an effective range of 400 meters.

Taiwan’s Coast Guard Administration acquired Kestrel rockets after news broke that the Chinese military was conducting island landing drills in the South China Sea. The rockets could target amphibious landing craft and repel an assault by sea, sources said.

The Kestrel rockets will be tested every six months under current conditions, the administration added.

Meanwhile, Beijing is reportedly using new tactics to exert influence over contested waters in the South China Sea. Chinese fishing boats have been anchored in areas claimed by Vietnam and the Philippines, and refuse to leave, the New York Times reported.

Greg Poling, the director of the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, described the tactic as insidious.

“Beijing pretty clearly thinks that if it uses enough coercion and pressure over a long enough period of time, it will squeeze the Southeast Asians out,” Poling told the newspaper. The presence of the Chinese ships is meant to intimidate, with the goal of harassing Vietnamese and Filipino fishermen into leaving the area, he added.

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