KEY POINTS

  • A video showed soldiers in small boats storming a beach and throwing smoke grenades
  • Fujian province will be a key launching site for any Chinese invasion of Taiwan
  • This comes as the Taiwan President said it will not bow to pressure from China  

As military tensions mount on the Taiwan Strait, China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) Monday said it carried out a beach landing and assault drills in the province directly across the sea from Taiwan.

Though Beijing's statement did not connect the drills with Taiwan, the display of military might comes as China stepped up air incursions into Taiwan's buffer zone, reports Reuters.

The official PLA Daily newspaper carried a brief report on its Weibo microblogging account, stating that 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 said. Details were not provided.

Reports add that a video of soldiers in small boats storming a beach, throwing smoke grenades, breaking through barbed wire defenses, and digging trenches were also available. However, the drills appeared to involve only a small number of troops.

Though the PLA account did not mention when drills happened, it is almost certain that the military exercise did not happen on Monday as the video showed clear weather and calm sea. Southern Fujian, at present, is affected by a tropical storm passing between Taiwan and the Philippines.

The Southeastern province of Fujian, known for its coastal cities and mountains, is expected to be a key launching site for any Chinese invasion of Taiwan due to its geographical proximity. 

The announcement of a beach landing drill comes a day after Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen declared in a defiant speech that Taiwan will not bow to pressure from China and will defend its democratic way of life. Tsai's statement comes as Chinese President Xi Jinping vowed to "fulfill reunification" ahead of Taiwan's National Day.

Tsai also warned that the island nation is facing the "most complex situation" in the past 72 years, since the end of the Chinese civil war.

China views Taiwan as a breakaway province and has called for reunification, without ruling out the use of military might. Taipei had also recently warned that China could be capable of mounting a "full-scale" invasion by 2025. "With regards to staging an attack on Taiwan, they currently have the ability. But [China] has to pay the price," Chiu Kuo-cheng, the defense minister, told Taiwanese journalists last month. 

Taiwan's defence minister has described military tensions with China at their highest in more than four decades, after record incursions by Chinese warplanes File image. Taiwan's defense minister has described military tensions with China at their highest in more than four decades, after record incursions by Chinese warplanes. Photo: TAIWAN DEFENCE MINISTRY / Handout