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Taiwan launches computer-simulated war games amid rising tensions

ROC Central News Agency

04/23/2021 10:41 PM

Taipei, April 23 (CNA) The computerized component of this year's Han Kuang military exercises was officially kicked off on Friday to test Taiwan's defense strategies and tactics against a possible military attack by China.

According to the Ministry of National Defense (MND), the exercises, known as "tabletop drills" officially started at noon, with Minister of Defense Chiu Kuo-cheng (邱國正) and Chief of the General Staff Huang Shu-kuang (黃曙光) personally overseeing the process at the command center.

The Han Kuang exercises are Taiwan's largest annual war games and involve all branches of its armed forces. They are held annually in two stages: the tabletop drills and live-fire drills.

This year's tabletop drills last for eight days, the longest in the history of Han Kuang exercises since they were first held in 1984, according to military officials.

Due to COVID-19 prevention protocols, however, only about 300 military personnel have participated in the tabletop drills inside the command center, sources told CNA.

In previous years, the number of military personnel taking part in the tabletop drills easily reach thousands, sources said.

According to the military, the drills will run around the clock for their entire duration, in which the defend side will use the Joint Theater Level Simulation (JTLS) system to test Taiwan's capabilities to ward off enemy attacks, under the harshest possible scenarios.

This involves putting the latest military assets of China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) in the simulation, including its first indigenous aircraft carrier, the Shandong, the J-20 stealth fighters and some advanced missiles.

According to the Military News Agency, Chiu, in his inspirational talks, rallied the military officers to follow every procedure and hone their decision-making skills and battle management.

He also asked the participants to keep the contents and results of the drills confidential.

Meanwhile, the live-fire component of the Han Kuang exercises will be staged from July 12-16, according to the MND.

The annual exercises are being held this year amid rising tensions across the Taiwan Strait.

In response to much more frequent sales of U.S. weapons to Taiwan, high-level U.S. visits, and stronger U.S. support for Taipei under former U.S. President Donald Trump, which seem to be continuing under his successor, Joe Biden, China has flown PLA sorties close to Taiwan almost on a daily basis since mid-September last year, to show its dismay.

MND reports showed that in the first 23 days in April alone, PLA planes have incurred into airspace near Taiwan for 18 days, with the largest show of force recorded on April 12, involving 25 war planes.

(By Matt Yu and Emerson Lim)

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