Taiwan Spots Chinese Balloons In Its Airspace

Taiwan Spots

Taiwan Spots, three days in a row, alleged Chinese weather balloons were seen flying over Taiwan’s main island.

Taiwan Spots Chinese Balloons In Its Airspace

Taiwan SpotsAccording to the Ministry of National Defense (MND) in Taipei, Chinese balloons have been detected in Taiwan’s airspace three days in a row, only days before the election.

Taiwanese authorities have confirmed the first cases of Chinese balloons flying over the self-ruled island directly, rather than the Taiwan Strait. The MND first started reporting China’s balloon invasions in December 2023, but the vast majority of them did not enter the airspace above the island.

Taiwanese voters go to the polls on January 13 in presidential and parliamentary elections viewed as critical for cross-strait ties.

The ministry stated in a statement on Thursday that three Chinese balloons “were detected yesterday after crossing the median line of the Taiwan Strait,” which acts as the de facto border between Taiwan and mainland China.

The accompanying map depicts one of the balloons soaring into the island’s airspace at an altitude of 15,000 feet (4.57 kilometers) before departing above central Taiwan late Wednesday afternoon.

Previously, on Monday and Tuesday, two and four balloons were seen crossing the Taiwan Strait’s median line, respectively. One balloon flew over Taiwan island on Monday and three more on Tuesday.

The defense ministry stated that the three balloons sailed 105-160 nautical miles (194-296 km) southwest of Taichung’s Ching Chuan Kang air base on Tuesday, but provided no other data.

Sun Li-fang, a ministry official, stated late last month that the military did not believe the balloons had anything to do with the impending elections.

The ministry has stated repeatedly that it is “closely monitoring and controlling the situation, taking appropriate measures” in response to Chinese air incursions.

According to Ben Lewis, an independent defense analyst based in Washington D.C. who has been watching Chinese military actions, Taiwan has recorded sixteen balloon sightings since December 7, 2023, with five of them crossing airspace.

“This is an extremely provocative move,” Lewis went on to say. “I’m operating under the assumption that they are not Chinese military balloons until the MND confirms otherwise, but it’s concerning.”

Taiwan faces a test

According to another observer, the balloons “might be a test” for Taiwan’s reaction.

“It could also be a gray zone activity,” Jyh-Shyang Sheu, an assistant research fellow at Taiwan’s Institute for National Defense and Security Research (INDSR), speculated.

Gray zone operations are not explicitly acts of war, but they can be detrimental to a country’s security.

According to the Taiwanese expert, the majority of the discovered balloons were flying at a low altitude and were rated “less sensitive” than the balloon identified in the United States in early 2023.

According to the Pentagon, in the so-called “2023 Chinese balloon incident,” a Chinese high-altitude balloon flew for days over the continental United States before being shot down by a stealth F-22 Raptor fighter jet in the Atlantic Ocean on Feb. 4.

Authorities in the United States stated it was a high-altitude surveillance device the size of a school bus, but China said it was a weather balloon that had been blown off course.

The event forced US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to postpone a planned visit to China, and it signified a further deterioration in Washington-Beijing ties.

 

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