The annual Han Kuang military exercises continued yesterday, with combined naval and air force combat maneuvers held off the east coast, and a simulation of the defense of Taichung Harbor from a Chinese attack.
However, live-fire drills and troop movements at a major armed forces base in southern Taiwan met with the protests of local residents.
The protest in southern Taiwan is part of a long-running feud between local residents and the military over the activities of the Joint Operations Training Base Command, which is in Pingtung County’s Checheng Township (車城).
Photo: Tsai Tsung-hsien, Taipei Times
Led by county councilors and township elected officials, more than 200 residents gathered at the entrance of the base yesterday morning and attempted to enter.
The residents wanted to stop the military exercise and the live-fire drills, because they said the noise and the concussive shocks from artillery bombardments have damaged nearby houses and severely affected their living environment.
Pingtung County authorities dispatched several squads of police officers to the scene.
Checheng Township mayor Chang Chun-kuei (張春桂) and County Councilor Lee Chih-wei (李志偉) of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) were among the officials who headed the protest and they negotiated with military officials to present residents’ grievances.
Lee said that residents have protested against the base since it was set up to train soldiers in the 1960s, and people have always demanded the base be moved elsewhere.
He and other officials said that many farm houses and buildings nearby the base have sustained cracks and severe deterioration, but the military does not provide residents with financial compensation and has never conducted damage assessment on the areas surrounding the base.
Voicing their demands at the base entrance, one resident said: “[Former vice president] Lien Chan (連戰) has been to China to review the Chinese military parades, so our nation’s armed forces need not hold these drills anymore, which cause difficulties to our daily lives.”
In yesterday’s drill, the army’s engineers corps simulated the placing of explosives on piers and other infrastructure at Taichung Harbor, in the event of incursion by Chinese warships.
In addition, a trainee soldier at the Airborne Special Forces Command base in Tainan was found hanging in his barracks on Tuesday, with military officials saying preliminary findings indicate a suicide.
Military officials said the soldier, surnamed Lin (林), was found hanging from the roof of the barracks on Tuesday afternoon.
He was taken down and emergency services were sent for, but medics were unable to revive him and he was pronounced dead, officials said, adding that Lin’s family were notified.
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