CHINA has issued a chilling warning to Taiwan by releasing footage of field hospital rehearsals – suggesting it is preparing for mass casualties.
It comes as Beijing ramps up military drills near the island as fears of an imminent invasion swell.
Tensions between the two nations have hit boiling point in recent days, with China continuing to flex its military muscles by launching jets into Taiwan‘s airspace and firing missiles in haunting drills.
Taiwan has been on high alert as China conducts a series of war games in response to a visit by US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Polosi to the island this week.
Beijing has essentially surrounded the island – which it regards as a breakaway province – with 68 jets and 13 warships, Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defence has said.
In the past two days, more than 100 warplanes and 10 warships have been at the centre of live-fire military drills around Taiwan.
Training has continued today in three zones around Taiwan.
China’s military said it has conducted air and sea combat drills to the north, southwest and east of the island to “test the troops’ joint combat capabilities”.
Taipei has scrambled to ready a response, with Taiwan Air Force Mirage fighter jets pictured on the runway of an airbase in the northern city of Hsinchu.
As China steps up its war games, harrowing footage of combat medical exercises has been released on Weibo, showing rehearsals of teams dealing with vast numbers of casualties.
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It shows medics loading would-be injured soldiers onto a “sanitary train” to practice treatment and the evacuation of the wounded.
The train – which can carry more than 100 people – is equipped with a intensive care unit, an operating room, a reception, and a treatment room.
Amid heightened tensions, Taiwan’s president Tsai Ing-wen has said drills are being “closely monitored” as she called on world leaders for their support.
She tweeted: “Our government and military are closely monitoring China’s military exercises and information warfare operations, ready to respond as necessary.
“I call on the international community to support democratic Taiwan and halt any escalation of the regional security situation.”
Chinese leader Xi Jinping has always vowed to “reunify” with the island – and its feared the new drills are a rehearsal for invasion.
Beijing claims the island belongs to them, but the people of Taiwan insist they are a separate nation.
It comes amid a string of brazen moves by China as they attempt to send a message to both Taiwan and the US over senior American politician Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei.
Her trip to the island earlier this week was the most senior visit by a US politician – something which infuriated China as they viewed it as a provocation.
On Thursday, China sent 22 warplanes hurtling into Taiwan’s airspace as they crossed the “median line” running down the Taiwan Strait on Thursday, according to the defence ministry in Taipei.
Taiwan said “air defense missile systems” were deployed to track the jets, and radio warnings were broadcast – it is understood the island also scrambled fighter planes.
Chinese state media referred to the unprecedented war games as rehearsing for the “reunification operation” – and said exercises “blockading the island” will become routine.
The Global Times – which is often seen as the unfiltered mouthpiece of the Communist Party – has been raging over Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan.
It branded her “arrogant, paranoid and eager to put on a show” in a scathing editorial published on Thursday.
And it boasted about the ongoing military drills, saying they show China has “absolute control” over Taiwan.
In a further flex of military might, China yesterday launched a flurry of ballistic missiles that landed in blockaded Taiwan’s waters.
Beijing fired 11 Dongfeng ballistic missiles from a nearby military installation into waters surrounding Taiwan, according to the government in Taipei.
The deadly rockets flew over Pingtan, leaving plumes of white smoke and loud banging sounds in its wake.
Chinese nationalists fled to Taiwan after the Communists won the civil war on the mainland in 1949 – and the island has remained independent ever since.
However, Beijing has always aggressively insisted that Taiwan belongs to them by right – and have pledged to reclaim the island by 2050.