TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- The 41st annual Wan An exercise (萬安演習), a drill simulating an air attack by Chinese military forces, was held today (May 27) in the pouring rain in northern Taiwan.
Today's drill, code-named Wan An No. 42, was held between 1:30 pm and 2 pm in Taipei City, New Taipei City, Yilan County, Keelung, Taoyuan City, Hsinchu City, and Hsinchu County.
For the first time in a nationwide air defense drill, messages were fired off to cellphones in a simulation of a response to a missile attack, according to the MND. Despite the fact that the text message was sent two minutes in advance and sirens wailed across the city as the drill began, many vehicles could be seen trying to charge through the empty streets before police pulled them over.
Intersection of Xinyi Road and Jinshan Road.
On Tuesday (May 28) between 1:30 and 2 pm, it will be the turn of Kaohsiung, Tainan, Pingtung, and the island county of Kinmen.Pingtung, and the island county of Kinmen. 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).
Cars and buses trying to rush through intersection as drill begins.
The nationwide Wan An air raid drill will be exercised around the island from May 27 through May 30 from 1:30 pm to 2 pm, 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
Eastern Region: May 29
Hualien County and Taitung County
Matsu Area: May 29
Central Region: May 30
Miaoli County, Taichung City, Changhua County, Nantou County, Yunlin County, Chiayi City, and Chiayi County
Penghu area: May 30
Intersection quiet as drill comes to an end.
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 Wanan exercise).
The drill has continued for 41 years now. As tensions with China have ratcheted up since President Tsai Ing-wen's (Cai Ying) 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).
Video showing the first couple minutes of the drill in the pouring rain:
Time-lapse video showing cars and pedestrians clearing the way just before the drill: