Taiwan begins 4-day annual air defense drill


Taiwan on Monday began the annual air defense drill as sirens went off across many cities and counties of the island nation. Code-named Wan An, the air defense exercise kicked off from northern Taiwan and will continue for four days.

Defense Ministry authorities urged civilians to take shelter in places. Taiwanese people were informed through the short messaging service that air raid drills are being held.

High-pitch alarms were raised to mark the beginning of the annual military drill and anyone found violating the protocols during the exercise will face a fine from $1,000-$5,000.

Video footage showed air raid sirens heard in several cities and counties of Taipei, New Taipei, Keelung, Taoyuan, Hsinchu, and Yilan where exercises continued for 30 minutes.

Authorities closed vehicular road traffic and pedestrian movement during the air exercises.
“The air defense exercise is aimed at raising public awareness of emergency warnings to reduce the possibility of casualties and damage if attacks occur,” Taiwanese military spokesman Sun Li-fang told the official news agency Focus Taiwan.

The Wan An drill was first held in 1978, several years after Taiwan was removed from the UN to make place for China, which considers the self-ruled island as its “breakaway province.”

Taipei, however, has insisted on its independence since 1949 and enjoys full diplomatic relations with at least 14 nations.

The idea to hold air defense preparations was initiated by then Taiwanese National Assembly President Chiang Ching-kuo.

Chiang suggested the air raid preparedness drill for citizens is to “prepare for dangers in times of peace” and dubbed it the “mega peace exercise.”
Annual exercises have continued since 1978 for 45 years now.

According to the Taiwanese National Defense Act and Taiwanese National Defense Mobilization Preparation Act, the Wan An exercise is “mainly meant to verify mobile combat capabilities and evacuate the streets to allow for traffic controls and air raid siren tests to enhance national emergency response capabilities.”



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