TAIPEI: Taiwan’s military published a handbook on Tuesday advising civilians on how to prepare for a potential Chinese invasion, including where to find bomb shelters and how to stockpile emergency supplies.

China’s Communist Party has never controlled self-ruled Taiwan but it nonetheless views the island as part of its territory and has vowed to one day seize it, by force if necessary.

Those threats have turned more bellicose under Xi Jinping, China’s most authoritarian leader in a generation.

Russia’s recent invasion of Ukraine has also heightened fears that China might one day follow through on threats to annex its smaller neighbour.

The 28-page guide contains information which “the general public can use as an emergency response guideline in a military crisis or natural disaster,” defence ministry spokesman Sun Li-fang said during an introduction at an online press conference.

It is the first time Taiwan’s military has published such a handbook.

Drawn from similar guides by Sweden and Japan, it tells residents where to find bomb shelters via mobile phone apps and what to do in an emergency including how to distinguish air raid sirens.

“The guide is for the public to better prepare themselves before a war or disaster happens,” Liu Tai-yi, an official of the ministry’s All-Out Defense Mobilisation Agency, said.

It includes information on basic survival skills for the public during air raids, massive fires, building collapses, power outages and natural disasters.

“We hope the public can familiarise themselves where the safety shelters are beforehand,” he added.

Beijing’s increased sabre-rattling has spurred diplomatic support for Taipei and visits from Western nations shaken by China’s more muscular tone. Taiwan remains massively outgunned against China but the mountainous island would be a formidable challenge for any military to conquer.

Taiwan last year stepped up its training regime for reservists and has increased purchases of military equipment such as jets and anti-ship missiles.

The island is also considering extending its compulsory military service to 12 months. Currently all eligible males have to undergo a four-month basic military training.

Unlike South Korea, the Philippines and Japan, Taiwan is not a treaty ally with the United States.

Washington remains Taiwan’s main arms supplier but it maintains a policy of “strategic ambiguity”, leaving China guessing as to whether an invasion would trigger a response.

iPhone plants shut

Taiwan’s Pegatron Corp , which assembles iPhones for Apple Inc, said on Tuesday it had suspended operations at its Shanghai and Kunshan plants in China due to the government’s strict Covid-19 protocols.

China has put Shanghai under a tight lockdown since late March and neighbouring Kunshan has also tightened curbs to control the country’s biggest Covid-19 outbreak since the coronavirus was discovered in late 2019 in the city of Wuhan.

Global companies, from phone to chip makers, are highly dependent on China and Southeast Asia for production and have been diversifying their supply chains after the pandemic caused havoc.

According to Taiwan’s Financial Supervisory Commission, as of April 7 a total of 161 listed Taiwanese companies reported their operations in Shanghai and Kunshan have stopped, 41 of them make electronics.

“In the best-case scenario, complete resumption of production may not be possible until late April or early May,” analyst Ming-Chi Kuo with TF International Securities said, adding that Apple could minimise the impact due to its strong supply chain and relationship with the Chinese government. Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Staffing, logistics and transportation issues are forcing manufacturers to rely on available inventory, barely meeting the needs of production lines and exacerbating component mismatches, according to data provider TrendForce.

Published in Dawn, April 13th, 2022

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