Soldiers fire 155mm howitzers during an annual live fire military exercise in Pingtung county, southern Taiwan August 9, 2022. REUTERS/Ann Wang

Taiwan, for its part, has begun drills to ward off a possible attack after days of massive Chinese military maneuvers. Live artillery shells were fired in Taiwan’s southernmost district of Pingtung on Tuesday, a journalist from the local AFP news agency reported. An army spokesman confirmed the start of the exercise.

The spokesman had previously said that the Taiwanese army would “practice countermeasures against simulated enemy attacks on Taiwan” on Tuesday and Thursday. Hundreds of soldiers and around 40 howitzers would be used. The exercises had been planned for a long time and were not a reaction to China’s maneuvers.

Taiwan regularly holds maneuvers simulating a Chinese invasion. In July, the Taiwanese military practiced countering attacks from the sea in a “joint intercept operation” as part of its largest annual drill.

China began massive military maneuvers in the waters around Taiwan last week after US top politician Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan. Despite all the protests and contrary to its own announcements, China continued its military exercises on Monday. Beijing had actually announced that it wanted to end the exercises on Sunday.