Chinese Military To Hold
Practice Invasion Of Taiwan

By Oliver August
The Australian
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 newspaper.
"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 stand.
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.
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