China and Taiwan split amid civil war in 1949, and Beijing remains committed to bringing the self-governing island back into its fold - possibly in just the sort of Normandy-style beach-landing invasion that this year's Hankuang exercises simulated.
The drills followed Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian's decision earlier this year to scrap a government body responsible for the island's eventual unification with the mainland.
Chen's measure infuriated Beijing and caused alarm in Washington, which fears being drawn into a war in the Western Pacific.
Although the U.S. switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979, it remains committed to Taiwan's defense, and has hinted it would intervene if China attacks, according to the AP.
Chen warned that China remains a threat to Taiwan's developing democracy. "China is acting against Taiwan to try to create the foundation of a future invasion," he said.
Taiwanese military officials said 13,000 soldiers, airmen, sailors and marines, as well as 7,000 reservists, took part in this year's Hankuang exercises - more than ever before.
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