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China, Taiwan brace for impact as super typhoon Doksuri nears

China, Taiwan brace for impact as super typhoon Doksuri nears
Empty streets are seen during the annual evacuation drill in Taipei, Taiwan on July 24.
PHOTO: Reuters

BEIJING/TAIPEI - China urged fishing boats to seek shelter and farmers to speed up their harvest while Taiwan suspended annual military drills as super typhoon Doksuri spiralled closer to East Asia, potentially reaching deep into China.

Doksuri, nearly 1,000km in diameter, is expected to sweep past lightly populated islands off the northern tip of the Philippines by mid-week while fierce winds and heavy rain lash Taiwan to the north.

Still, Philippine authorities have already raised storm warning levels in the capital region and dozens of northern provinces, and have begun evacuating some coastal communities in the path of the storm.

Currently packing top wind speeds of 138 miles per hour, Doksuri will make landfall on the Chinese mainland somewhere between Fujian and Guangdong provinces on Friday (July 21), China's National Meteorological Centre said on Tuesday.

While Doksuri is expected to lose some power and land as either a typhoon or severe typhoon, it will still hammer densely populated Chinese cities with torrential rain and strong winds.

Fujian has ordered all offshore fishing boats to find refuge at the nearest port by Wednesday noon and told farmers to harvest their rice and other crops that have matured.

Concerned about autumn grain crops, China's ministry of agriculture and rural affairs warned on Monday that Doksuri could go deep inland after landing, affecting high-stalk crops such as corn and even rice in rural areas.

After the storm has passed, plots without broken stalks should be straightened quickly and waterlogged fields should be drained in time, with fast-acting fertilisers applied to hasten the recovery of plants, the ministry said.

Some drills cancelled

Taiwan cancelled some of its annual military drills on Tuesday for safety reasons as authorities stepped up preparations for what they say could be the most damaging typhoon to hit the island in nearly four years.

It was not immediately clear how the typhoon could further impact the five-day "Han Kuang" exercise, set to take place throughout the island this week with a focus on defending the island's main international airport and how to keep sea lanes open in the event of a Chinese blockade.

Beijing has never renounced using force to bring the democratically governed island under its control. Taiwan rejects Beijing's sovereignty claims and has vowed to defend its freedom and democracy.

Taiwan's weather bureau issued sea warnings and urged onshore communities to brace for heavy rains and strong winds.

In the southern port city of Kaohsiung, authorities were rushing to collect hundreds of containers drifting in the sea after container ship Angel sank off Taiwan's southwestern coast last week.

"Taiwan has not seen any typhoon making landfall in more than 1,400 days, and that's why I urge all government ministries that they must gear up and make preparations," Premier Chen Chien-jen said in a post on Facebook.

"I'd like to remind citizens not to underestimate typhoon threats."

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