China's military announced Monday that it carried out beach landing and assault drills just across from Taiwan at a moment the rhetoric coming out of Beijing, Taipei and Taiwan's powerful backer Washington is growing increasingly bellicose.
The assault drills were held "in recent days" according to the People's Liberation Army (PLA) statement, located in the southern part of Fujian province, which is directly across the sea from the self-ruled island.
Importantly the official PLA statement didn't specifically name Taiwan as a factor in the mission preparation and drills; however, the message is unmistakably meant to affirm China won't back down on its longtime claims to sovereignty over the island.
Reuters describes details of the drills as summarized in Chinese state media as follows:
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 added, without providing further details.
It showed a video of soldiers in small boats storming a beach, throwing smoke grenades, breaking through barbed wire defenses and digging trenches in the sand.
But it was also noted that a small number of troops appeared in the footage, suggesting elite units were involved - and not large-scale marine or infantry forces.
Though taking place firmly within Chinese mainland territory, the geography is important, considering as Reuters notes that "Fujian would be a key launching site for any Chinese invasion of Taiwan due to its geographical proximity."
The PLA video release of the Fujian drills...
#China: A combined arms brigade attached to the PLA’s 73rd Group Army recently held multidimentional amphibious landing drills with assault boats, drones and laser engagement systems in a sea area in Eastern China's Fujian Province. pic.twitter.com/3PtsmyHpG5— POPULAR FRONT (@PopularFront_) October 10, 2021
Within the past two months top Taiwan officials have openly described their strategic defense doctrine of wanting to transform the island into a "sea fortress" and "porcupine" which is able to withstand a direct Chinese assault - or at least long enough for help from more powerful allies to arrive.
But meanwhile one recent regional media report emphasized that "Washington will also make clear that Taipei must avoid any provocative action that would compel Beijing to respond, even as it pressures Taiwan to increase its military spending, invest in more mobile coastal cruise missile systems and strengthen its military reserves."