Taiwan’s defence ministry informed that it detected three Chinese balloons crossing the Taiwan Strait on Wednesday, marking the second consecutive day of such activities. One of the balloons reportedly flew over the island, escalating concerns about potential espionage efforts by China. The use of balloons for surveillance gained global attention in February 2023 when the United States claimed to have shot down a Chinese surveillance balloon. China, however, insisted that it was a civilian craft that had accidentally strayed from its intended path, news agency Reuters reported.
Taiwan, currently on high alert due to both military and political tensions with China, remains vigilant ahead of the presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for January 13. The Taiwanese government accuses China of applying military and economic pressure to interfere in the upcoming elections, rejecting Beijing’s claim of the island being its territory.
The defence ministry of Taiwan has been consistently reporting instances of Chinese balloons flying over the sensitive Taiwan Strait and crossing airspace to the island’s north, disappearing afterwards. Notably, this week has seen two consecutive incidents of balloons crossing over the island itself.
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Taiwan Defence Ministry On Chinese Balloons As Beijing Mum Over Incidents
In the latest update on Thursday detailing Chinese military activity over the preceding 24 hours, Taiwan’s defence ministry revealed that three Chinese balloons had again flown over the strait. One of them crossed the centre of Taiwan island before vanishing. The ministry informed that the northerly balloon was located 45 nautical miles (83 km) north of Hsinchu, a city housing a Taiwanese air force base, while the other two passed just north of the Penghu islands, where another air base is situated, Reuters reported.
While Taiwan’s ministry had previously suggested that the balloons were likely for weather monitoring, it declined to comment on the specific purposes of the latest incidents. The Chinese defence ministry is yet to respond to the claims.
Over the past four years, China has significantly increased military activities around Taiwan, with Chinese fighter jets and warships regularly operating in the Taiwan Strait. The repeated instances of Chinese balloons violating Taiwanese airspace further escalate tensions between the two nations.
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