Helicopters simulate evacuation of Taiwan president

Defense minister does not mention president

A helicopter landing at the Ministry of National Defense. (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan) – Military helicopters landed at the Ministry of National Defense Friday morning in what local media interpreted as a drill for the evacuation of President Tsai Ing-wen during an emergency.

For years, there has been talk of a “beheading,” a potential attack from China aimed at eliminating or abducting the president from the Presidential Office Building.

Asked about the helicopters seen landing at his ministry, Defense Minister Feng Shih-kuan told lawmakers the event was a routine drill for military preparedness which was helpful for supply or evacuation, but he did not mention the president.

An Air Force S-70C and an Army UH-60M Black Hawk took off from the base near Taipei Songshan Airport at 6:50 a.m. Friday in order not to disrupt civilian traffic and landed at the MND by 7:15, Feng said.

It was the first such drill since the ministry moved from its original premises behind the Presidential Office Building to a new outpost in the Dazhi area of the capital. During the administration of President Ma Ying-jeou, an evacuation drill was centered on a tunnel between the presidential building and the MND offices across the street, reports said.