- Chinese soldiers will for the first time practise a D-Day
style invasion of Taiwan on a densely populated island off the mainland
coast this month.
- The 18,000-man mock landing on the beaches of Dongshan
Island is to involve amphibious assault craft, Russian-built fighter jets
and submarines operating in the Taiwan Strait to ward off a simulated counter-attack
by the US Seventh Fleet.
- Reports of the exercise were greeted with thousands of
supportive messages yesterday in mainland internet chatrooms, a sign of
the immense popularity of Beijing's policy of striving for the eventual
return of Taiwan.
- One said: "Taking back Taiwan by force is only a
matter of time. We don't have to be afraid of the US. China is never afraid
of a paper tiger."
- Another wrote: "It seems there is a common understanding
among people in every chatroom: we should recapture Taiwan by force"
- Dongshan Island is 240km from the southern tip of Taiwan
and has the same geography and local dialect. The island is inhabited by
a million people, compared with 22 million on Taiwan, which has a significantly
larger land mass.
- The mock invasion will be the first exercise aimed at
"taking control of the Taiwan Strait", according to a Shanghai
- "Sukhoi SU27 fighter jets will be outfitted with
guided air-to-surface missiles to ensure tank brigades can make a landing
and engage in warfare," the New Express Daily reported.
- The military exercise comes at a time of high tension
across the Taiwan Strait after the re-election of Taiwanese President Chen
Shui-bian, who is intensely disliked by Beijing for his pro-independence
- Regional security concerns will top the agenda when US
national security adviser Condoleezza Rice visits Beijing this week between
trips to Tokyo and Seoul.
- She will have two days of talks with China's leaders
- the first high-level consultation since a North Korea summit in Beijing
last month and a visit to the Pentagon by Taiwanese arms buyers.
- China is concerned that Mr Chen is moving further towards
declaring independence - a step that would probably trigger a Chinese military
response, possibly a naval blockade.
- However, few analysts believe the People's Liberation
Army is capable of getting a full-scale armada across the Taiwan Strait.
- The Australian via bignewsnetwork.com