China says its military carried out beach-landing drills in a province facing Taiwan

A Chinese armored vehicle fires during an event at the 2018 International Military Competition in Fujian, China, August 8, 2018.

China’s military said Monday it carried out beach landing and assault drills in Fujian province, across the sea from Taiwan.
China didn’t link the exercises to current tensions with Taiwan, but Beijing has ramped up its pressure on the island in recent days.

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s military said on Monday 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.

Democratically ruled Taiwan, claimed by China as its own territory, has complained of stepped-up military and political pressure from Beijing to force it to accept Chinese rule, including massed air force incursions into Taiwan’s air defence identification zone.

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.

Aging anti-landing barricades on a beach facing China on the Taiwanese island of Little Kinmen, which lies only a few miles from China, April 20, 2018.

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 routinely carries out military exercises up and down its coast as well as in the disputed South China Sea.

Taiwan has denounced what it calls China’s coercive tactics against it and says it will defend itself if attacked.

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

(Reporting by Beijing newsroom; writing by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

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