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China sparks Taiwan invasion fears after building palace replica as army training ground

Fears of an imminent Chinese attack on Taiwan have been sparked by the publication of new satellite photos, showing the detailed construction of a replica of Taiwan’s presidential district in remote Inner Mongolia.

The images were first published to social media by a Taiwanese data analyst on March 26.

They reveal a layout of streets strongly resembling the Bo’ai Special Zone, a restricted area in Taipei’s Zhongzheng District, housing Taipei’s most important state buildings.

These include the presidential palace, the supreme court, the ministry of justice and the central bank of Taiwan.

Sim Tack, an analyst at intelligence firm Force Analysis, told FRANCE 24 that the construction of the replica began in March 2021 and lasted approximately one year.

He said the site features buildings and façades “that are inspired by what you can see in Taipei, without having exactly the same size or shape”.

The existence of the the training site to rehearse a potential attack on the capital city has only added to the growing pressure on Taipei from its powerful foe.

Beijing considers Taiwan as part of its territory and has not ruled out using force to bring the island under its sovereignty.

China’s fighter jets have repeatedly staged provocative incursions into Taiwan’s airspace, in an attempt to ratchet up the psychological pressure on the island’s political leadership.

Taiwan’s Defence Minister tried to play down the significance of the new satellite images.

Chiu Juo-cheng told reporters that it was “inevitable that the Chinese army produces this type of imitation.”

The Minister’s attempts to calm the waters stand in stark contrast to recent US military assessments of the likelihood of a Chinese attack on the island state.

Last month, the head of the US military’s Indo-Pacific Command claimed that China would be “ready” to invade Taiwan by 2027.

In written testimony to a US Senate Committee, Chief Admiral John Aquilino said that “all indications” point to the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) meeting what appears to be a secret directive from President Xi Jinping to be ready to invade Taiwan within the next three years.

The Chief Admiral referred to 2027 as Xi’s “preferred timeline” for annexation.

This is not the first time that Beijing has sought to intimidate Taiwan through building mockups of its cities.

In 2015, China’s military produced an almost exact replica of the presidential palace in Taipei, at a separate site in Inner Mongolia. At the time, Taiwan was gearing up for a high-stakes presidential contest in 2016.


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