China has denied targeting Taiwan in a recent military drill after footage of the drill, aired on state TV, showed soldiers charging towards what appears to be a replica of Taiwan’s presidential office.

A spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of National Defense told Global Times on Wednesday that the drill was a routine military exercise “without a specific target.”

A building targeted in a PLA drill. Photo: 中国军网.

The rebuttal came after the Taiwanese Defense Ministry expressed concern over media reports about the drill, which was aired on CCTV on July 5. Military spokesman Lou Shou-he said on Wednesday it’s “absolutely unacceptable” for the Chinese army to design its drill environment to stimulate attacking Taiwan.

Parts of the “Stride-2015 Zhu Rihe C” exercise were aired on a show called “There’s No Second Chance on a Battlefield” on CCTV-7, the state broadcaster’s military and agricultural channel. Three minutes into the show, PLA soldiers were seen charging towards a five-storey red and white building which looked very much like the Presidential Office Building in Taipei.

The Taiwan Presidential Office Building was designed and built by Japanese colonial rulers in 1919. The 130 metre-wide structure features a 60-metre-tall tower in the middle. The building shown in the PLA drill appeared to be a simplified version of the real thing.

The real Taiwan presidential office. Photo: wikipedia

A commentary by the Guancha.cn, a mainland news website, said the aired scenes “accidentally showed the real purpose of the military exercise.” It is  possible that the Zhu Rihe drills revolve around solving the Taiwan issue by force, the website claimed.

Photo: guancha.cn

The Zhu Rihe drills, which started in June, are a series of ongoing exercises by seven military regions and 10 army brigades in China, according to state media People’s Daily. The drills are being conducted in Inner Mongolia. The name “Zhu Rihe” came from the Mongolian word for “heart”, the paper.

A PLA commander said the Zhu Rihe drills feature “realistic urban environments” as battle grounds, according to the PLA Daily.

Photo: guancha.cn

An earlier exercise showed soldiers engaging in simulated street battles surrounding the building.

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Vivienne Zeng

Vivienne Zeng is a journalist from China with three years' experience covering Hong Kong and mainland affairs. She has an MA in journalism from the University of Hong Kong. Her work has been featured on outlets such as Al Jazeera+ and MSNBC.