Taiwan's military Tuesday lifted the veil on how it will respond to a massive Chinese air attack, showing that the island still takes the risk of war seriously despite improving ties.
Journalists were invited for the first time to a drill simulating aerial assaults on Taiwan's major air bases and testing the military's ability to recover quickly from such a shock.
The manoeuvres, staged at a military air base near Hualien city in eastern Taiwan, played out a scenario in which runways were bombed by waves of bombers or missiles from the mainland.
"The drill is aimed to test our ability to repair runways as soon as possible so that fighter jets can take off should the air base be attacked," air force spokesman Lieutenant General Pan Kung-hsiao said.
The exercise involved hundreds of troops, some operating heavy engineering equipment such as bulldozers, hydraulic shovels and bomb disposal engines.
Military analysts say any Chinese invasion of Taiwan will be preceded by saturation air bombardment meant to wipe out civilian and military airports and key government facilities and paralyse transportation systems.
Ties between Taipei and Beijing have improved since Ma Ying-jeou of the China-friendly Kuomintang party came to power in 2008, pledging to boost trade links and allowing in more Chinese tourists.
But Beijing still maintains it could use force against the island, which it regards as part of its territory since their split in 1949 at the end of a civil war.