Hundreds of Taiwanese reservists train for combat as Ukraine crisis stokes fear of Chinese invasion

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Around 400 military reservists in Taiwan reportedly participated in a combat training exercise on Monday, responding to President Tsai Ing-wen’s call for unity amid fears of a Chinese invasion.

The training program, which involved target practice and a defense simulation of an area near the capital of Taipei, reportedly started earlier this month and has been extended to two weeks, compared to the previously required five to seven days for reserve training.

Concerns about a Chinese invasion have gained traction in recent years as Beijing increasingly deploys warplanes on Taiwan’s air defense zone. Those fears have escalated since Russia began its invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, with some speculating that China could take advantage of the distraction and make a similar move.

In response to the crisis, Tsai ordered all government units to “strengthen the prevention of cognitive warfare” against “foreign forces intending to manipulate the situation in Ukraine and affect the morale of Taiwanese society.” On Saturday, she stressed the need for Taiwanese people to unite.

“The recent situation in Ukraine once again proves that the protection of the country, in addition to international solidarity and assistance, depends on the unity of the whole people,” Tsai said at a reservist training on Saturday.

Major General Chen Chung-chi, director of Taiwan's 6th Army Command, said reservists are important because the security of the “country” does not depend on soldiers alone.“In Ukraine, we see soldiers in the battlefield, and some men who go to battle after sending their wives and children to safety,” Chen told AFP. “Military power is limited but the power of the people is unlimited.”

Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng said there are many lessons to be learned from Ukraine, whose citizens have been actively involved in deterring Russian advances.

“For our reservists, if they train for between seven and 14 days a year, that gives us a lot more confidence,” Chiu told reporters, as per Reuters.

Shi Hui-bin, one of the reservists, said the training has helped him prepare for the future.

“When the time comes, I will know what to do,” he said, according to AFP.

China has rejected comparisons between Ukraine and Taiwan; however, President Xi Jinping has previously stated that Beijing will unify with the island, using force if necessary.

Featured Image via AFP News Agency

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