The Taiwanese military recently held the 29th edition of its Han Kuang series of exercises with a display of force unseen since President Ma Ying-jeou came into office in 2008. A total of 7,682 soldiers from the Air Force, Navy and Army took part in the counter-assault exercise on the outlying island of Penghu that simulated an amphibious attack by the People’s Liberation Army.
Although this was not, as initially reported, the first time that the drill involved live ammunition since 2008, the government actively sought to portray the exercise as something more muscular than in the past. Also contrary to early reports, this was not the first public unveiling of the Ray Ting-2000 multiple rocket launcher in action, but the thunderous barrage of 81 rockets fired by the nine vehicles was a sight to behold. More show than meaningful military exercise, perhaps, but the result did not disappoint the several dozens of reporters, local and foreign, who awoke at 4 AM to witness the event.