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.

The maneuver was therefore held near an area that the Chinese had also declared as an exercise zone in the past few days. The Chinese military, on the other hand, continued its “combat-oriented” exercises, which have been going on for days, according to Chinese state media.

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 exercise.

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 and Tuesday. Beijing had actually announced that it wanted to end the exercises on Sunday.

With its ongoing maneuvers since last week, the People’s Liberation Army has not only practiced a sea and air blockade, but also a possible conquest of the island. Some Chinese commentators suggested that the military drills are happening regularly and could become a new normal.

Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu condemned the escalation of Chinese maneuvers near Taiwan. “China’s real intention behind these military exercises is to change the status quo in the Taiwan Strait and the wider region,” Wu said Tuesday. The large-scale military exercises, rocket launches and cyber attacks also aim to weaken public morale on the island.