The Taiwanese defense ministry reported that a Chinese military surveillance balloon crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait on Friday, heightening concerns about military threats from China. The balloon was spotted at approximately 11:52 a.m. local time before disappearing around 12:55 a.m. It was traveling at an altitude of 21,000 feet and was observed heading east.
Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng informed the public about the incident, indicating that although it could have been a weather balloon, the ministry was obligated to make the occurrence known. He stressed the importance of being prepared and aware of the enemy situation.
In addition to the surveillance balloon, Taiwan’s military also detected 26 Chinese fighter jets around the island, 15 of which entered Taiwan’s southwest air defense identification zone. Moreover, 10 Chinese naval vessels were spotted around the island, prompting Taiwan’s military to deploy aircraft, ships, and land-based missile systems to monitor their activities.
There has been an incident in which the United States shot down a similar Chinese surveillance balloon, raising concerns about the potential threat. Taiwan has made it clear that it will take appropriate measures against any new threats, including shooting them down if necessary.
The upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections in Taiwan have added to the tensions as China has become increasingly assertive in its attempts to influence the electorate’s choices. The contested nature of Taiwan’s status as a self-governing democracy since the Chinese Civil War adds further complexity to the situation. Given the ongoing tensions, China’s repeated incursions into Taiwanese airspace and the subsequent increase in its military drills have intensified hostilities between the two countries.