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Taiwan's annual Han Kuang military exercises set to begin today

TAIPEI--The annual Han Kuang military exercises are scheduled to begin today, including a live-fire drill, to test Taiwan's combat readiness amid a growing military threat from China, according to the Ministry of National Defense.

The exercises will take place April 15-19 based on a simulated scenario in which Taiwan has to defend itself against military strikes by China, the ministry said.

The Han Kuang exercises — Taiwan's most important war games that involve the Army, the Air Force and the Navy — will be conducted around the clock for five consecutive days, during which the live-fire drill is set to be held in the Penghu Islands off southwestern Taiwan April 17, the ministry said.

The indigenous Thunderbolt-2000 multiple rocket launcher will be debuted during the live-fire exercise, the ministry said.

President Ma Ying-jeou is scheduled to pay an inspection visit to the Penghu part of the drill, ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Luo Shou-he said.

The military has not used live ammunition in the Han Kuang exercises since 2008, according to the ministry.

A second part of the Han Kuang exercises are computer-aided war games that are slated for July, the ministry said.

Taiwan and China have been historic rivals since the end of a civil war in China in 1949, but relations between them have been warming up since 2008, when President Ma Ying-jeou came to office in Taiwan.

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