China says it carried out beach landing drills in province opposite Taiwan

A video posted on the official People's Liberation Army Daily's Weibo account showed soldiers storming a beach, breaking through barbed wire defences and digging trenches in the sand. PHOTO: WEIBO

BEIJING (REUTERS) - China's military said on Monday (Oct 11) it had carried out beach landing and assault drills in the province directly across the sea from Taiwan, though it did not link the exercises to current tensions with Taipei.

The official People's Liberation Army Daily newspaper, in a brief report on its Weibo microblogging account said the drills had been carried out "in recent days" in the southern part of Fujian province.

The action had involved "shock" troops, sappers and boat specialists, the Chinese military newspaper added. The troops were "divided into multiple waves to grab the beach and perform combat tasks at different stages", it added, without providing further details.

It showed a video of soldiers in small boats storming a beach, throwing smoke grenades, breaking through barbed wire defences and digging trenches in the sand.

The drills appeared to involve a small number of troops.

The weather was clear and the seas were calm - suggesting the drill did not happen on Monday as southern Fujian is currently being affected by a tropical storm passing between Taiwan and the Philippines.

Fujian would be a key launching site for any Chinese invasion of Taiwan due to its geographical proximity.

China regards Taiwan as a renegade province awaiting reunification, by force if necessary. Taiwan says it will defend its freedoms and democracy, blaming China for the tensions.

Taiwan has come under growing military and political pressure to accept Beijing's rule, including repeated Chinese air force missions in Taiwan's air defence identification zone, to international concern.

The sorties began on Oct 1, national day on the mainland, and peaked last Monday when the mainland sent 56 planes, breaking the daily record for such missions.

Over the weekend, Chinese President Xi Jinping reiterated a vow to "reunify" Taiwan, and Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen said Taiwan will not be forced to bow to China.

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