Taiwan’s defence ministry reported the detection of six additional Chinese balloons traversing the Taiwan Strait on Sunday, with one of them breaching the island country’s airspace. This incident marks the latest occurrence in a series of balloon sightings observed by the ministry over the past month and a half.
Earlier this month, the defence ministry issued a strongly worded statement, accusing China of jeopardizing aviation safety and engaging in psychological warfare against the Taiwanese people through the deployment of these balloons. This statement came just days before Taiwan’s January 13 elections.
Notably, China claims sovereignty over Taiwan, despite the vehement objections from the Taipei government. China’s defence ministry, which had refrained from commenting on the previous balloon incidents, has not yet responded to the latest report. The ongoing tensions between the two nations have heightened concerns over China’s use of unconventional methods, such as balloon activities, as a means of exerting pressure.
The potential for China to employ balloons for espionage gained global attention in February of the previous year when the United States intercepted what it claimed to be a Chinese surveillance balloon. China, however, contended that the balloon was a civilian craft that had unintentionally drifted off course.
According to the latest revelation by Taiwan’s defence ministry in its daily report on Chinese military activities, all six balloons crossed the sensitive median line of the strait on Sunday. Of these, only one balloon crossed over the southern tip of Taiwan, as indicated on a provided map. The remaining five balloons veered to the north of Taiwan but did not encroach upon its land territory.
It is noteworthy that all these balloons followed an eastward trajectory before disappearing, heightening concerns about their purpose and potential capabilities. The median line of the Taiwan Strait, once an unofficial boundary between Taiwan and China, has seen increasing violations by Chinese military assets, including fighter jets, drones, and now, balloons.
Importantly, China has consistently asserted its refusal to acknowledge the existence of the median line, further complicating the already strained relations between the two nations. The recurring balloon incidents contribute to the broader geopolitical landscape, raising questions about China’s strategic intentions in the region and the impact of such activities on regional stability.