From Subway Stations to Shopping Malls, Taiwan Prepares Its Air-Raid Shelters

TAIPEI (Reuters) —

A label for a designated air-raid shelter with information on the maximum number of people it can take is seen outside a building in Taipei, Taiwan, Monday. (REUTERS/Ann Wang)

Taiwan is preparing its air-raid shelters as rising tension with China and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine raise new fears about the possibility of a Chinese attack on the democratic island.

China considers Taiwan its territory and has increased military activity in the air and seas around it. Taiwan vows to defend itself and has made strengthening its defenses a priority, with regular military and civil defense drills. 

The preparations include designating shelters where people can take cover if Chinese missiles start flying in, not in purpose-built bunkers but in underground spaces like basement car parks, the subway system and subterranean shopping centers.

The capital of Taipei has more than 4,600 such shelters that can accommodate some 12 million people, more than four times its population.

Taipei officials have been updating their database of designated shelters, putting their whereabouts on a phone app and launching a social media and poster campaign to make sure people know how to find their closest one.

A senior official in the city office in charge of the shelters said events in Europe had brought a renewed sense of urgency.

“Look at the war in Ukraine,” Abercrombie Yang, a director of the Building Administration Office, told Reuters.

“There’s no guarantee that the innocent public won’t get hit,” he said, adding that that was why the public had to be informed.

“All citizens should have crisis awareness … We need the shelters in the event of an attack by the Chinese communists.”

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