As tensions between Taiwan and China increase and as Russia invades Ukraine, new worries about a Chinese attack on the democratic island are being raised. Taiwan is building its air-raid shelters in response.
China has escalated its military presence in the skies and seas surrounding Taiwan because it sees it as part of its territory. As part of its commitment to self-defence, Taiwan regularly conducts military and civil defence drills and has prioritised fortifying its defences.
The preparations include setting aside areas where people can hide if Chinese missiles begin to fly in, rather than in specially constructed bunkers, but rather in underground areas like parking garages below ground, the metro system, and underground shopping malls.
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More than 4,600 of these shelters can house over 12 million people, which is more than four times the population of Taipei.
When Harmony Wu, 18, and some other young people recently practised some dance movements in an underground retail concourse, they were shocked to learn that in the event of war, the space would be converted into an air-raid shelter.
But she claimed to comprehend the rationale.
“Shelter is an absolute necessity. They are to keep us secure since we don’t know when war will break out “Wu spoke at a location close to a Taipei subway station.
“War is gruesome. We haven’t encountered it before, therefore we’re unprepared “She spoke.
To ensure that people are aware of how to locate their nearest designated shelter, Taipei officials have been upgrading their database of shelters, posting their locations on a smartphone app, and launching a social media and poster campaign.
The number of persons the shelter can accommodate is listed on a yellow label that is about the size of an A4 piece of paper and placed at the entrance.
Events in Europe, according to a senior official in the local administration in charge of the shelters, have heightened the sense of urgency.
Director of the Building Administration Office Abercrombie Yang told Reuters, “Look at the war in Ukraine.”
He added that the public needed to be informed because “there’s no guarantee that the innocent population won’t get hit.”
“Every citizen should be aware of potential crises. If Chinese communists attack, we need the shelters.”
Taiwan conducted an extensive air-raid drill across the entire island last month for the first time since the coronavirus outbreak disrupted routine training.
One of the orders given to residents in the event of incoming missiles was to dive into their basement parking spaces, cover their eyes and ears with their hands, and keep their mouths open to reduce the impact of blast waves.
Some supporters of civil defence claim that more needs to be done.
The shelters do not need to be stocked with supplies like food and water, but authorities are compelled by law to maintain them tidy and accessible.
In June, researchers in the parliament demanded that shelters be given emergency supplies.
According to Wu Enoch of the government’s Democratic Progressive Party, the populace needs to put together survival kits to bring with them when they look for refuge.
For individuals to stay there for a long time, Wu added, “What’s crucial is what you bring with you,” mentioning medical supplies and even equipment to assemble a temporary latrine.
Many Taiwanese residents seem accustomed to living with the danger of a Chinese invasion after a decade of sabre-rattling across the Taiwan Strait separating the democratic island from China.
“I’m not anxious. I continue living my life as normal. When something occurs, it occurs, “explained 17-year-old Teresa Chang, who was also practising her dancing moves in the dark.