Taiwan identifies eight Chinese balloons

Eight Chinese balloons were spotted around Taiwan, the highest number since the country started recording sightings in December. Tensions have risen since presidential elections took place in Taiwan

China's military launched air and sea patrols in August 2023. (photo: DW)
China's military launched air and sea patrols in August 2023. (photo: DW)
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DW

Taiwan's Defence Ministry said on Saturday it had recorded the highest number of Chinese balloons around the country since it started regularly releasing data on balloon sightings in December.

Eight balloons were spotted on Friday, one day before the start of the Lunar New Year, at varying altitudes of 15,000 feet (4,572 meters) to 38,000 feet.

China considers Taiwan part of its own territory and has regularly carried out military drills around the self-ruled island. It has not discounted using force to take control of the territory.

In September, China sent naval vessels, including the Shandong aircraft carrier into waters near Taiwan. The naval drills came shortly after the United States and Canada sailed warships through the Taiwan Strait.

A week later, 103 warplanes were detected during a 24-hour period, heading towards Taiwan and then turning back before reaching the island.

The new balloon sightings came after Taiwan held a presidential election on January 13, which was won by the ruling Democratic Progressive Party's Lai Ching-te, who Beijing regards as a "separatist."

China warned ahead of the vote that if Lai won, it would bring "war and decline" to Taiwan. Lai, who will take office in May, offered to open talks with China, which have so far been rejected.

Last February, the United States shot down what it said was a Chinese surveillance balloon, making China's potential use of balloons for spying became a global issue. China maintains the balloon was a civilian craft that accidentally drifted astray.

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Published: 10 Feb 2024, 1:15 PM
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