Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Taiwan’s ‘wartime scenario’ security drills to target critical infrastructure

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Taiwan has begun preparations for a series of homeland security drills aimed at fortifying the “operational resilience” of the island’s critical infrastructure amid persistent concerns over a cross-strait conflict.

The drills, to be held later this year, will focus on 20 critical infrastructure sites, including government agencies, public utilities, transport hubs, hospitals, industrial complexes, and science parks, according to Taiwan’s National Security Bureau.

“The primary emphasis in these drills should be on advancing the integration of the defence ministry’s ‘transition from peacetime to wartime’ scenario,” the bureau said in a report sent for legislative review last week and obtained by the South China Morning Post on Monday.

The report said the integration would be pivotal for evaluating the resilience of facility operations under both standard and evolving conditions.

Taiwan’s Office of Homeland Security, which will oversee the exercises, would also conduct inspections at another 40 critical infrastructure locations this year, the bureau said.

Due to the sites’ sensitive nature, the report did not indicate which facilities or locations would be included in the exercises, and specific dates for the drills and inspections were not disclosed, but the bureau said they would be spread throughout the year.

Critical infrastructure, as detailed in an office handbook, is categorised into eight sectors: energy, water resources, telecommunications, transport, finance, emergency services, government agencies, and industrial zones.

Amid mounting cyber and military threats from Beijing, Taiwanese lawmakers have pressed the government to boost security and emergency responses across critical infrastructure sectors.

“Given the rapidly evolving situations and technological advancements, security authorities must step up efforts to enhance our homeland security measures,” said Wang Ting-yu, a lawmaker from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

US military officials and experts have issued several warnings about Beijing possibly taking aggression action against Taiwan by 2027.

Admiral John Aquilino, the former head of the US Indo-Pacific Command, has repeatedly cautioned that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) could target the self-governed island within the next three years.

CIA director William Burns has also expressed concerns about Beijing’s ability to launch an attack on Taiwan by 2027.

Chieh Chung, a senior national security research fellow at Taiwan’s National Policy Foundation, which is affiliated with the main opposition party Kuomintang, said that if Beijing decided to attack Taiwan, it would likely target military installations and critical infrastructure.

“Such a move would not only impair our key facilities and diminish our response capabilities but also spark panic in Taiwan,” he said.

Beijing considers Taiwan as part of its territory to be reunited by force if necessary. While the United States, Taiwan’s main arms supplier, refrains from recognising Taiwan as an independent state, it opposes any unilateral action to change the cross-strait status quo by force.
Cross-strait relations have been significantly strained over the past eight years since the election of Tsai Ing-wen, from the independence-leaning DPP, as Taiwan’s president. Tsai’s refusal to endorse the one-China principle – which Beijing insists must be the foundation for cross-strait communication – has prompted mainland authorities to suspend official exchanges with Taiwan and intensify pressure through military, diplomatic and economic means.

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