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Wan An drill simulating air raid by China to held in Taipei today from 1:30-2 pm

Violators of Taiwan's Wan An air raid drill may be fined NT$30,000 - NT$150,000

Zhonghua Road during Wan An drill. (Photo by Andy Ip)

Zhonghua Road during Wan An drill. (Photo by Andy Ip)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- The 41st annual Wan An exercise, a drill simulating an air attack by Chinese military forces, will be held today (May 27) in northern Taiwan, with drills to be held in other parts of Taiwan through Thursday.

The system for the air raid alert, which was developed last year and tested on a small scale during the Wan An drills in central and southern Taiwan, has been expanded, the Ministry of National Defense (MND) said. For the first time in a nationwide air defense drill, messages will be fired off to cellphones in a simulation of a response to a missile attack, according to the MND.

The drill, designated as Wan An No. 42 (萬安演習), will cover Taipei, New Taipei, Keelung, Yilan County, Taoyuan, Hsinchu City, and Hsinchu County today from 1:30 p.m. to 2:00 p.m., according to CNA.

Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport issued a special warning, advising passengers for the 41 flights taking off between 2 and 4 p.m. today to arrive at the airport before the drills, as some access roads might be closed down.

On Tuesday (May 28) between 1:30 and 2 p.m., it will be the turn of Kaohsiung, Tainan, Pingtung, and the island county of Kinmen.

Hualien and Taitung on the east coast, and the island county of Lienchiang, better known as Matsu, will have the drills on Wednesday (May 29), while Central Taiwan, with Taichung, Miaoli, Changhua, Nantou, Yunlin, Chiayi City and Chiayi County, and also Penghu in the Taiwan Strait, will close off the series on Thursday (May 30).

The nationwide Wan An air raid drill will be exercised around the island from May 27 through May 30 from 1:30 p.m. to 2 p.m., and is divided into the following seven regions:

Northern Region: May 27

Yilan County, Keelung City, Taipei City, New Taipei City, Taoyuan City, Hsinchu City, and Hsinchu County

Southern Region: May 28

Tainan City, Kaohsiung City, and Pingtung County

Kinmen Area: May 28

Kinmen County

Eastern Region: May 29

Hualien County, Taitung County

Matsu Area: May 29

Lienchiang County

Central Region: May 30

Miaoli County, Taichung City, Changhua County, Nantou County, Yunlin County, Chiayi City, and Chiayi County

Penghu area: May 30

Penghu County

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 41 years now. As tensions with China have ratcheted up since President Tsai Ing-wen's (蔡英文) election in 2016 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.

Pedestrians and motorists who fail to follow instructions and clear the streets during the half-hour exercise may be fined NT$30,000 to NT$150,000 (US$1,000 to US$5,000).