Images from an Inner Mongolia training base show what looks like a replica of central Taipei.
A time series of satellite images confirms that in 2014 and early 2015 China constructed for military training purposes a building that closely resembles Taiwan’s Presidential Office Building in Taipei. The new building, at the PLA’s expansive Zhurihe combat training base in Inner Mongolia, is situated on a newly constructed grid of streets and buildings that has similarities to the center of Taiwan’s capital city.
A video that briefly showed PLA troops practicing an assault on the building, broadcast by CCTV on July 5, 2015, received marked attention in Taiwan when reported on July 22 by the Shanghai-based portal Guancha, and subsequently by Taiwan’s state-controlled Central News Agency, Apple Daily, and other outlets. A more detailed still image of the assault on the building appeared on China-based web portals, and was attributed to the PLA’s China Military Net website, but currently the image cannot be found on the website.
A Taiwan defense ministry spokesman called the drill “absolutely unacceptable,” and a Chinese defense ministry official retorted that the exercise was routine and without a specific target.
While the mock building at Zhurihe is not a precise replica of the Japanese-built structure in Taipei, the similarities are striking. The fact that the mock building is part of a newly built complex unlike any other zone at the base means the exercise can hardly be called “routine.”
Both of the buildings have a bisected rectangle layout, are five stories high (with six stories at the corners), and have a central tower over the main entrance. The Zhurihe building is approximately 136 meters long and 64 meters wide, while the Taipei building, more ornate and with wider wings, is 130 by 77 meters. The height of the Zhurihe building’s tower is 61-63 meters, as estimated by shadow length and sun elevation in the satellite image taken March 18, whereas the central tower in Taipei is 60 meters high. The Taipei tower is circular in cross-section and approximately ten meters in diameter, in contrast to the Zhurihe tower, which is rectangular in cross section and wider (13 by 16 meters). Both buildings have a façade of alternating vertical white and red finish and rectangular extensions at all four corners, as well as semi-circular protrusions at the bases of the façade extremities.