Chinese balloon incursions over Taiwan escalate

Recent tensions between Taiwan and China escalated as Taiwan’s defense ministry reported the detection of three additional Chinese balloons traversing the Taiwan Strait on Sunday, with one breaching the island’s airspace.

Chinese ballon, as the ones who goes over Taiwan

Taiwan’s defense ministry reported the detection of three additional Chinese balloons traversing the Taiwan Strait on Sunday, with one breaching the island’s airspace—an escalation in a series of similar occurrences observed over the past month.

In a recent statement characterized by strong language, the ministry accused China of endangering aviation safety and conducting psychological warfare against the island’s populace through the use of these balloons, particularly alarming given the proximity to imminent Taiwanese elections.

Despite the ministry’s public condemnation, China’s defense ministry, which previously chose not to comment on these balloon activities, did not immediately respond to the inquiry.

The potential espionage use of balloons drew global attention last February when the United States intercepted and downed what it claimed was a Chinese surveillance balloon. China, however, maintained that the balloon was a civilian craft that had unintentionally strayed off course.

Taiwan remains on high alert, closely monitoring both military and political activities from China in anticipation of the upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections. The island contends that China is applying military pressure and economic influence in an attempt to interfere with the electoral process.

The fundamental disagreement regarding Taiwan’s sovereignty persists, with China asserting its claim over the island, which Taiwan’s government vehemently refutes.

The defense ministry of Taiwan has been consistently reporting multiple incidents involving Chinese balloons traversing the Taiwan Strait since the previous month. Notably, some of these balloons were observed flying over Taiwan’s mainland near significant air bases within the past week.

The most recent revelation, as outlined in the ministry’s daily report on Chinese military activities, indicated that three balloons crossed the sensitive median line of the strait on Sunday. However, only one balloon breached Taiwan’s airspace, specifically at the southern tip, according to the ministry’s provided map.

All three balloons veered eastward before disappearing, as detailed in the report.

Amidst these developments, Hsiao Bi-khim, the vice presidential candidate for the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), urged China to cease its disruptive behavior towards Taiwan’s sovereignty.

“We do not condone intimidation and threats that disrupt the lives of Taiwan’s citizens at any time,” she emphasized, expressing hopes for sustained peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait beyond the imminent election.

Jaw Shaw-kong, the vice presidential candidate representing Taiwan’s largest opposition party, the Kuomintang (KMT), echoed these sentiments. He implored China to refrain from deploying aircraft and warships in the strait in the week leading up to the election.

Meanwhile, the Taiwan Strait’s historical median line, once an unofficial boundary between Taiwan and China, has seen frequent breaches by Chinese fighter jets, drones, and now, balloons.

China’s Taiwan Affairs Office reiterated its stance last week, dismissing the existence of the strait’s median line while accusing Taiwan’s ruling DPP of exaggerating threats from the mainland and provoking confrontation in the lead-up to the elections.

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