Taiwan conducts drills as tensions with China rise

August 8, 2022 12:16 pm

People have been told to take shelter and cover their eyes and ears in the event of a missile attack. [Source: ABC News]

Underground car parks, shopping centres and subway stations in Taiwan are being prepared for use as air-raid shelters as tensions with China raise new fears of an attack.

There are more than 4,600 such shelters available In Taipei that can accommodate some 12 million people, more than four times its population.

The preparation comes as China steps up military activity around Taiwan to pressure the democratically elected government to accept Chinese sovereignty.

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China considers Taiwan its territory and has increased military activity in the air and seas around it.

Taiwan’s Defence Ministry said in a statement it had the “determination, ability and confidence” to ensure its national security and had made various unspecified plans for an emergency.

Taipei officials have ramped up efforts to ensure people know how to find the closest air-raid shelter to them.

Shelter entrances are marked with a yellow label, about the size of an A4 piece of paper, with the maximum number of people it can take.

A database of designated shelters is available on an app, on social media and displayed on posters.

Building Administration Office director Abercrombie Yang said events in Europe had brought a renewed sense of urgency.

Taipei resident Harmony Wu, 18, was surprised to learn that an underground shopping concourse where she danced with friends would be turned into an air-raid shelter in the event of war.

But she said she understood why.

Last month, Taiwan held a comprehensive air-raid exercise for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted regular drills.

People were instructed that in the case of incoming missiles, they should get down in underground car parks.

They were told to cover their eyes and ears with their hands and keep their mouths open to minimise the impact of blast waves.

Some civil defence advocates say more needs to be done.

Authorities are required by law to keep the shelters clean and open, but they do not have to be stocked with supplies such as food and water.

In June, researchers in parliament called for shelters to be provided with emergency supplies.

However, Democratic Progressive Party member Wu Enoch said the public should prepare survival kits to take with them when they sought shelter.