Taiwan stages live-fire drill on island in South China Sea

03/01/2021 08:49 PM
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Dongsha Island (CNA file photo)
Dongsha Island (CNA file photo)

Taipei, March 1 (CNA) The Coast Guard Administration (CGA) was scheduled to hold a round of live-fire exercises on the Taiwan-held Pratas (Dongsha) Islands in the South China Sea on Monday amid rising tensions in the region.

According to a notice issued by the CGA to warn aircraft and ships before the drill, the live-fire exercises were to be staged from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday, with an expected danger zone of up to eight nautical miles and a maximum projectile altitude of 12,000 feet.

Similar drills are scheduled to be staged from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. on March 9, it said.

There was no indication from Taiwan's military or the CGA whether as of Monday night whether live ammunition had been fired.

The two rounds of exercises are part of the CGA's scheduled drills for the first quarter of 2021.

The drills are being staged amid almost daily flights by Chinese military aircraft into airspace around Taiwan, in particular in the southwest part of Taiwan's Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) near the Pratas Islands in recent months.

The Pratas Islands, which lie 450 kilometers southwest of Kaohsiung, are one of two territories controlled by Taiwan in the South China Sea, the other being tiny Taiping Island, which lies 1,600 km southwest of Kaohsiung.

Currently the two locations are manned by CGA personnel trained by Taiwan's Marine Corps, but Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense said last year that it would temporarily post marines on the Pratas Islands amid reports the Chinese military planned to conduct drills in the area.

The military never revealed other details, such as the number of Marines deployed, when they arrived on the islands, and how long they would stay.

Taiwan, Brunei, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam claim all or part of the South China Sea region as their territory.

(By Matt Yu and Joseph Yeh)

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