Taiwan reports Chinese spy balloon sighting as election nears
Share and Follow

Taiwan’s Defense Ministry says it spotted a Chinese surveillance balloon in the Taiwan Strait along with a large-scale movement of military aircraft and ships.

The ministry said the balloon passed southwest of the northern port city of Keelung on Thursday night, then continued east before disappearing, possibly into the Pacific Ocean.

There seemed to be some uncertainty about whether the balloon was operated by the People’s Liberation Army, the military branch of China’s ruling Communist Party. The ministry referred to it both as a “PLA surveillance balloon” and as “PRC’s balloon,” using the acronym for the People’s Republic of China, China’s official name.

AS TAIWAN PREPARES FOR 2024 ELECTION, FEAR OF CHINESE INTERFERENCE INCREASES

A Defense Ministry spokesperson said they had no additional information.

The incident came just over a month before Taiwan is to hold elections for president and the legislature and raises questions about possible Chinese efforts to influence the vote.

China’s Defense Ministry offered no comment, and Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said, “I’m not aware of the situation, and it is not a diplomatic question.”

China has long blurred the lines between military and civilian functions, including in the South China Sea, where it operates a huge maritime militia — ostensibly civilian fishing boats that act under government orders to assert Beijing’s territorial claims.

Keelung Harbor, Taiwan

Taiwanese military vessels are seen in Keelung Harbor, Taiwan, on Aug. 4, 2022. (AP Photo/Johnson Lai, File)

Taiwan has threatened to shoot down such balloons, but the ministry did not say what, if any, action was taken. It said the balloon was flying at an altitude of approximately 21,000 feet.

It also said 26 Chinese military aircraft and 10 navy ships were detected in the 24 hours before 6 a.m. Friday. Fifteen of the aircraft crossed the median line that is an unofficial divider between the sides, but which Beijing refuses to recognize, it said. Some also entered Taiwan’s self-declared air defense identification zone outside the island’s airspace, which encompasses the 100-mile-wide Taiwan Strait.

Taiwan’s military monitored the situation with combat aircraft, navy vessels and land-based missile systems, the ministry said.

Such incursions occur regularly as a means of advertising China’s threat to use force to annex the self-governing island republic it considers its own territory, wear down Taiwan’s military capabilities, and impact morale among the armed forces and the public, who remain largely ambivalent to China’s actions.

VIEWS ON CHINA AS ‘ENEMY’ OF THE US GROW, MANY SUPPORT MILITARY BUILDUP TO DETER TAIWAN INVASION: SURVEY

The Chinese missions have also prompted Taiwan to increase its purchases of aircraft from the United States, its chief ally, and strengthen its own defense industry, including producing submarines.

Beijing strongly protests all official contacts between the U.S. and Taiwan, but Taipei’s aggressive diplomacy has helped build strong bipartisan support for it on Capitol Hill.

U.S. President Joe Biden vowed sharper rules to track, monitor and potentially shoot down unknown aerial objects after a three-week high-stakes drama sparked by the discovery of a suspected Chinese spy balloon transiting much of the United States early in the year.

The U.S. labeled the balloon a military craft and shot it down with a missile. It recovered what it said was sophisticated surveillance equipment. China responded angrily, saying it was only a weather balloon that had blown off course and called its downing a major overreaction.

Share and Follow
Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like
3 University of Wyoming swimmers killed in US 287 crash

3 University of Wyoming swimmers killed in US 287 crash

2 more hurt in crash in northern Larimer county DENVER (KDVR) —…
Dead Appalachian Trail hiker, 'Mostly Harmless,' left a trail of mystery: 'He didn't want to be found'

Dead Appalachian Trail hiker, ‘Mostly Harmless,’ left a trail of mystery: ‘He didn’t want to be found’

This story discusses suicide. If you or someone you know is having…
Black History Month: National A. Philip Randolph Pullman Porter Museum celebrates 29 years telling history of Black labor unions

Black History Month: National A. Philip Randolph Pullman Porter Museum celebrates 29 years telling history of Black labor unions

CHICAGO (WLS) — The only Black labor history museum in the world…
sickle_cell_118121

American Red Cross urges blood donation to fight sickle cell disease

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) – The American Red Cross is encouraging people in…
‘I think God put me there at the right time’: Jacksonville sergeant honored one year after saving fellow officer’s life

‘I think God put me there at the right time’: Jacksonville sergeant honored one year after saving fellow officer’s life

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – They were strangers until fate brought them together exactly…
Chicago security guard gunned down with rifle, killed in Family Dollar store: police

Chicago security guard gunned down with rifle, killed in Family Dollar store: police

A Chicago security guard was gunned down at a Family Dollar store…
2 National Guard members killed in Mississippi helicopter crash

2 National Guard members killed in Mississippi helicopter crash

Two National Guard members died after a helicopter crashed Friday afternoon during…
DNC Chicago 2024: Department of Homeland Security analysis warns of threats posed against Chicago Democratic National Convention

DNC Chicago 2024: Department of Homeland Security analysis warns of threats posed against Chicago Democratic National Convention

CHICAGO (WLS) — A new warning from Homeland Security officials centers around…