At 10 AM on Saturday five Shanghai districts will have their (relative) peace and quiet shattered by a fifteen minute air raid drill. The timing is no accident: the sirens will coincide with a rally in Kaohsiung to support Taiwan’s bid for UN membership. The rally and the UN membership drive are being pressed by Taiwan’s Chen Shui-Bian, never a favorite of the Mainland leadership. In fact, according to the Guardian, the last Shanghai air raid drill was held to coincide with his inauguration in May 2004 (I have no recollection of this event).
Still, I get the sense that this air raid drill is different, if because of recent remarks made by Li Weiyi, the spokesman for China’s Taiwan Affairs Office. Quoted today in the South China Morning Post [subscriber only] on the topic of Mr. Chen, Li said of him: “A scum of the nation who attempts to split the country won’t escape the punishment of history.”
No comment from Mr. Chen on what he thinks of Mr. Li. But his feelings toward Shanghai are, apparently, mixed. According to the Guardian, Shanghai is “the likely target of Taiwan missiles in the event of conflict.” This makes perfect sense, I suppose, though I must admit that it had never occurred to me quite so directly before (note to self: write detailed complaint to congressman).
As reported in Shanghai Daily, the drill will be held in Pudong, and the outlying districts of Jinshan, Nanhui, Fengxian, and Chongming Island. For whatever reason, Xuhui (my home district) and the rest of downtown will be spared sirens screaming across the sky in the midst of the tourist season.