Fact check: Video of live-firing drill in Taiwan dates back to 2020




  • In Business
  • 2022-08-05 22:58:21Z
  • By USA TODAY

The claim: Video shows China firing into the Taiwan Strait ahead of Nancy Pelosi's visit

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., landed in Taiwan on Aug. 2, making her the the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit the country in 25 years. In response, China announced it would conduct live-fire military drills in the surrounding area.

Several social media users have shared a video purportedly showing China firing into the Taiwan Strait ahead of Pelosi's visit. The video shows bursts of fire shooting into the sky while several people stand on a road watching.

"It's now tense in the Taiwan Straight," says the caption of one July 30 Facebook post. "Video of China PLA live fire in the straight. Taiwan moves ADMs into the straight....China closes Taiwan Straight. Pelosi's plane looks to be an RON...(Rest Over Night)."

"Just a video of what Pelosi is walking into," the Facebook page added in the comments on its video post.

The video garnered over 3,600 views in its first four days. Other viral iterations have been published on Facebook and Twitter.

But the video is not new. It dates back to at least November 2020, and shows an annual Taiwanese firing drill.

China did not perform live-fire drills until the day after Pelosi's visit. 

USA TODAY reached out to the social media user who shared the claim for comment.

People walk past a billboard welcoming U.
People walk past a billboard welcoming U.  

Video shows 2020 Taiwanese drill

A longer version of the video was originally published on the Chinese social media website Weibo on Nov. 12, 2020. The caption says, "The Taiwanese Matsu residents filmed a live-fire drill of the Taiwan Army (every year) a few days ago," according to a Google translation.

Using geolocation, USA TODAY was able to determine the video was filmed on Matsu Island, also called Lienchiang County, which is located off the coast of China. The road, foliage, and barriers match that of a road located on the Northern coast of the island, according to Google Maps.

Another angle of the drill was shared on YouTube on Nov. 6, 2020, with the title, "2020/11/6 Mazu Nangan Air Defense Fire Net Live Fire Drill (Wanping Exercise)." The video's description says the anti-aircraft firing drill took place on Matsu Island and was performed by the Matsu Defense Command.

A Nov. 7, 2020,  article published by Youth Daily News reported the drill was performed on Nov. 6 on Matsu Island. It was performed "to simulate the enemy aircraft approaching the air," according to a Google translation of the article.

Fact check: Video of Chinese tanks was captured in Rizhao, not at Henan bank protests

The annual firing drill has been reported on by several Taiwanese outlets in the past. On Nov. 30, 2018, RTI News published a video of a similar-looking drill on YouTube.

"Mazu Nangan, on the evening of the 29th, the [Wanping Air Defense Fire Network] live-fire exercise was carried out," the video's caption says. "The local people took pictures. The shells shot into the dark night sky, and instantly flashed orange beams, which looked like fireworks."

On March 29, Taiwan News published an article titled, "Video shows Taiwan guns blaze in live-fire drill off China's coast." The article's photos and video showcase numerous shots of fire crossing the sky. This more recent drill was a result Russia's invasion of Ukraine and China's increased air presence in Taiwan's air defense identification zone, according to the article.

No news outlets reported on any Chinese military drills before or during Pelosi's visit to Taiwan. The day after she left, on Aug. 4, however, China launched live-fire drills in six areas surrounding Taiwan, according to Reuters.

Our rating: False

Based on our research, we rate FALSE the claim that a video shows China firing into the Taiwan Strait ahead of Pelosi's visit. The video was shared on Weibo in 2020. Articles and videos published by Youth Daily News, Taiwan News and RIT News demonstrate the video shows an annual Taiwanese firing drill.

Our fact-check sources:

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Our fact-check work is supported in part by a grant from Facebook.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: Video of Taiwanese live firing is related to 2020 drill

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