November 22, 2002

China Prepares to Kick Off Military Drills

China has begun final preparations for a large military exercises a report said on Friday.

All major roads in the Fujian provincial capital of Fuzhou leading southward to the Dongshan islands where the drills will take place some 250 kilometers (167.5 miles) northeast of Hong Kong have been taken over by the military, said the Wen Wei Po.

The paper, citing a military briefing, said the drill was designed "to smash at any times any plots by Taiwan independent separatists".

"If the condition calls for the use of force to resolve the issue of Taiwan, the PLA will first of all take Penghu," believed to be of strategic importance, the daily cited military experts as saying.

They added that there were no plans "now or in the future" to take over Quemoy and Matsu islands, which lie close to the mainland.

The wargames will involve military units from Zhejiang, Fujian and Guangdong provinces.

The exercise, whose preparations started in April, will be the largest in PLA history and will include the most advanced armaments, the paper said.

All hotels on Dongshan islands have been booked by the PLA to receive top government and military officials attending the drills.

Foreign ministry said clearly in June that the exercises were "routine" and not aimed at any other country.

(Chinadaily.com.cn 08/10/2001)

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