Taiwan will kick off a two-day missile live-firing test on Monday ahead of its largest annual military exercises as the island ramps up preparations against an increasingly assertive China.
The 23 million Taiwanese people live under constant threat of invasion by Beijing, which views the self-ruled democracy as part of its territory to be seized one day.
The missile firings in southern Pingtung county come as relations between Taipei and Beijing are increasingly strained, with China conducting two major military exercises around the island in the past year.
The latest was in April, when Beijing simulated targeted strikes on Taiwan and encirclement of the island. State media also reported dozens of planes practicing an “aerial blockade.”
Those war games were a response to President Tsai Ing-wen‘s meeting with US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy earlier that month.
Monday and Tuesday’s missile tests come against the backdrop of aerial and naval maneuvers by Beijing in and around the Taiwan Strait — a 180-kilometer-wide (122-mile-wide) passage between the island and mainland China.
Last month, eight Chinese warplanes approached Taiwan’s contiguous zone — or the band of sea within 24 nautical miles (44 kilometers) of its coast.
In May, China’s Shandong aircraft carrier group sailed through the Taiwan Strait in a rare voyage.
Relations have not fared better in the diplomatic sphere. Since the election of Tsai — who rejects China’s claim to Taiwan — Beijing has refused to speak with her government.
Last week, Taiwan’s immigration department announced it had rejected applications by Chinese tourism officials to visit the island for a mid-July international travel fair.
Citing the “overall cross-strait situation,” the immigration agency said there were doubts about the “necessity, urgency and irreplaceability” of the participation of Chinese tourism officials. Only tourism operators from China had their visas approved.