World

Chinese Surveillance Balloon Spotted Close to Taiwan Before Presidential Election, Sparking Concerns of Meddling

A Chinese military surveillance balloon was spotted in the Taiwan Strait, similar to the one seen in the US, along with a large-scale deployment of military aircraft and ships, said the Taiwanese Defence Ministry on Friday, raising fears of Chinese interference in the presidential election scheduled for next month in the self-governed island nation. According to the Ministry, the balloon was monitored flying at an approximate altitude of 6,400 metres and passed southwest of the northern port city of Keelung on Thursday night before moving eastward and disappearing possibly into the Pacific Ocean. Taiwan has threatened to shoot down such balloons but this time, the ministry did not specify any action to be taken.

At least 26 Chinese military aircraft and 10 Chinese navy vessels were detected in the 24 hours before Friday morning. Out of those 26 aircraft, 15 crossed the median line which is an unofficial divider between the sides, but which Beijing refuses to recognise.
Such incursions occur regularly as a means of advertising China’s threat to use force to annex the self-governing island republic it considers its own territory. Taiwan’s Defence Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng said that the ministry will “closely monitor the enemy’s situation” near the island. Meanwhile, the already strained relations between China and the US plunged further after US President Joe Biden ordered the shooting down of a Chinese spy balloon after it traversed the continental United States on January 28 this year. This also prompted US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to cancel his trip to Beijing.

On February 5, the US military shot down the Chinese spy balloon over the Atlantic Ocean and launched a mission to recover all the equipment from its debris, drawing a strong reaction from China which warned of repercussions over America’s use of force against its civilian unmanned airship. Senior US officials claimed that the balloon had gathered intelligence from several sensitive American military sites.

Last month, China flew as many as 43 military aircraft and seven ships near the self-ruled island, largely seen as an attempt by Beijing to sway Taiwan’s presidential election in January. The ruling Democratic Progressive Party, which leans toward formal independence for the island, is anathema to the Chinese government. China backs the Opposition candidates who bat for working with the mainland. Taiwan and China split in 1949 when the communists took control of China during a civil war. The Nationalists who suffered loss fled to Taiwan and formed their own government here. The island is self-governing, though only a few foreign nations give it official diplomatic recognition. The US among others has formal ties with China while maintaining a representative office in Taiwan.

Olivia Morgan

Olivia Morgan is an accomplished journalist with over 15 years of experience in reporting and analyzing global events. Born and raised in London, Olivia's passion for international affairs was sparked during her university years when she studied journalism and political science.
Back to top button

Adblock Detected

Please consider supporting us by disabling your ad blocker