Operation North Sword 2005 against Taiwan
China on Tuesday launched major annual war games in Inner Mongolia, pitting 16,000 troops against each other in a mock battle observed by military officers from a record 24 nations in preparations for a Taiwan invasion. Code-named "North Sword 2005," the exercise was being held at the sprawling Zhurihe training base amid dry grasslands about 310 miles northeast of Beijing, the Shanghai Daily newspaper and other official media reported. Included in the mock battle was testing of missiles and targeted assassinations of Taiwanese government officials. The mock battle had several shades of reality containing live satellite video of Taiwanese officials being targeted.
Now in at least their fourth year, the exercises mark a major push toward integrated training involving the army, air force and other branches of the military in battlefield conditions. The mock assault involved hundreds of tanks and armored vehicles, more than 100 artillery pieces and a helicopter squadron, it said. It called the exercise an "rehearsed confrontation drill" involving airborne and armored brigades with no determined outcome.
Forty foreign military personnel were on hand for the exercise, but restricted saying they represented the largest number of nations invited to watch the war games since Beijing began allowing such observers in 2002. They included officers from the United States, Britain, France, Germany and Australia, said Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang. China has vigorously stepped-up training of its 2.5 million-member armed forces in the past five years, focusing on Taiwan, the self-governing island Beijing claims as its own territory.
With the settling of border disputes with Russia and Central Asian states, Beijing has been able to save money and manpower formerly deployed on its northern and eastern flanks and focus on its coastal regions. Rapid economic growth in recent years has also led to double-digit increases in budgets for the People's Liberation Army.
The military has been steadily trimming its vast but poorly trained troops and stressing high-tech warfare. It has ditched Mao Zedong's strategy of "People's war," which emphasized using rural guerrilla forces. China has become one of the biggest customers for modern planes and naval craft from Russia. Deployment of high-tech Chinese-made computer and communications equipment has also greatly boosted commanders' abilities to direct forces in the field.