Online rumors that Wan An air raid drill will be held in Taiwan tomorrow false: Police

Facebook rumors that Wan An air defense drill were to be held tomorrow are false according to Changhua police

Xinyi Rd. and Jinshan South Rd. during last year's drill.

Xinyi Rd. and Jinshan South Rd. during last year's drill. (Taiwan News photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- Online rumors that the annual Wan An air defense drill (萬安演習), a excercise simulating an air attack by Chinese military forces, will be head tomorrow (April 13) are false, announced the Changhua Police Department.

Over the past week, Facebook community pages in Taiwan have been posting a message which stated that the Wanan air defense drill would be held on April 13 in the five counties of Miaoli, Taichung, Nantou, Chuanghua and Yunlin. The message reminded netizens "not to consider it a child's game." It warned that those who fail to obey orders during the drill will be fined up to NT$150,000 and be arrested.

Hsiao Hsiao-lin 蕭小林, director of the Civil Defense Control Center said April 13 was the date of last year's drill. Hsiao said that it appears that some people had changed 2017 to 2018 and uploaded the image to Facebook.

Hsiao said that by law, the Ministry of National Defense must announce such drills at least one month in advance. He added that police would also give advanced notice of the drill and expressed the hope that this is the end of the rumor and that no one else will repost it.

The first Wan An air defense exercise of the year will be held in central Taiwan on May 29 from 1:30 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. There following is the schedule for the drill across Taiwan this year:

Central Taiwan: May 29 (Tuesday) 1:30 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. in Miaoli, Taichung, Changhua, Nantou, Yunlin, Chiayi City and Chiayi County.

Northern Taiwan: June 5 (Tuesday) 1:30 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. in Keelung, Taipei, New Taipei, Taoyuan, Hsinchu City, Hsinchu County and Yilan.

Southern Taiwan: June 7 (Thursday) 1:30 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. in Tainan, Kaohsiung, and Pingtung.

Eastern Taiwan: June 12 (Tuesday) 1:30 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. in Hualien and Taitung.

Matsu: June 14 (Thursday) 1:30 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Kinmen: June 21 (Thursday) 1:30 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Penghu: June 26 (Tuesday) 1:30 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.

False warning posted on Facebook. Yellow characters have been added to say that it is a rumor and to not share it.

The first Wan An drill was held in 1978 after Chiang Ching-kuo had been elected president by the National Assembly. Due to increased concerns over Taiwan's safety after being removed from the UN in 1971, Chiang initiated an air raid preparedness drill for citizens to "prepare for danger in times of peace" and dubbed it the "Mega Peace Exercise" (萬安演習).

The drill has continued for nearly 40 years now and as tensions with China have ratcheted up since President Tsai Ing-wen's election and with 1,000 missiles pointed at Taiwan from China, the drills seem more relevant than ever.

In compliance with the National Defense Act and provisions of the National Defense Mobilization Preparation Act, the Wan An exercises are mainly meant to verify the mobile combat capabilities, and evacuate the streets to allow for traffic controls and air-raid siren tests to enhance the national emergency response capabilities.

Article 21 of the Civil Defense Act stipulates that in order to reduce damage from air strikes, the Ministry of Defense, may, in conjunction with relevant authorities, implement air defense exercises, evacuate civilians from the street, and traffic control and air raid sirens. Pedestrians and motorists who fail to follow instructions and clear the streets during the half hour exercise are subject to fines of NT$30,000 to NT$150,000 under Article 25 of the Civil Defense Act.