Taiwan readies its air-raid shelters amid tensions with China

Aug 2, 2022: According to a report by Reuters, Taiwan is preparing its air-raid shelters as rising tension with China and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine raise new fears about the possibility of a Chinese attack on the democratic island.

China considers Taiwan its territory and has increased military activity in the air and seas around it. Taiwan vows to defend itself and has made strengthening its defenses a priority, with regular military and civil defense drills.

The preparations include designating shelters where people can take cover if Chinese missiles start flying in, not in purpose-built bunkers but in underground spaces like basement car parks, the subway system and subterranean shopping centers.

The capital of Taipei has more than 4,600 such shelters that can accommodate some 12 million people, more than four times its population.

Taipei officials have been updating their database of designated shelters, putting their whereabouts on a smartphone app and launching a social media and poster campaign to make sure people know how to find their closest one.

Shelter entrances are marked with a yellow label, about the size of an A4 piece of paper, with the maximum number of people it can take.

A senior official Abercrombie Yang, a director of the Building Administration Office, in the city office in charge of the shelters said events in Europe had brought a renewed sense of urgency.

Last month, Taiwan held a comprehensive air-raid exercise across the island for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic disrupted regular drills.

Among the instructions citizens got in case of incoming missiles was to get down in their basement parking lots with their hands covering their eyes and ears while keeping their mouths open – to minimize the impact of blast waves.

Some civil defense advocates say more needs to be done.

Authorities are required by law to keep the shelters clean and open but they don’t have to be stocked with supplies like food and water.

Researchers in parliament called in June for shelters to be provided with emergency supplies.

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