Chinese Balloon Detected Near Taiwan: Defence Ministry

Fri Dec 08 2023
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TAIPEI: Taiwan’s defence ministry said on Friday that it had detected a Chinese balloon crossing the so-called median line that bisects the sensitive strait separating the island from China.

People’s Republic of China balloon was detected at 11:52 yesterday after crossing the median line of the Taiwan Strait, 101 nautical miles southwest of Keelung, said the ministry, referring to a city in northern Taiwan.

It added that the balloon headed east and disappeared at 12:55, according to AFP.

The ministry statement included a graphic showing the balloon on a meandering path.

Defence Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng told reporters Friday that our preliminary understanding is that it might be a weather or sounding balloon that drifted toward Taiwan due to monsoon winds.

He added that such a balloon could be used for collecting meteorological research and data, like the impact of wind forces.

On Thursday, the ministry said that it had detected 7 Chinese aircraft crossing the median line at 7:30 pm.

It said that the aircraft also conducted joint combat patrol with Chinese boats. It had monitored and tasked land-based missile systems to respond.

A Friday morning report said twenty-seven planes had crossed the line in a 24-hour window ending at 6 am.

China’s policy towards Taiwan

China has in recent years ramped up political and military pressures on Taiwan, which it claims as its territory.

While Beijing has been sending vessels and warplanes around Taiwan on a near-daily basis, nighttime activity by Chinese aircraft and the appearance of a balloon are rare.

Defence analyst Su Tzu-yun said there have been past examples of small Chinese weather balloons floating above Taiwan’s main island and smaller outlying areas, which do not pose a military threat.

But Thursday’s balloon could be a deliberate test, he added.

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