After several overflights of suspicious Chinese balloons, Taiwan has accused Beijing of wanting to intimidate the population. China’s actions are a “gray zone tactic” designed to influence people’s morale, the Defense Ministry said in Taipei on Saturday. Taiwan also sees the balloons as a threat to flight safety in the strait between Taiwan and China. “We call for an immediate end to this practice to ensure regional aviation safety,” the ministry said.
The background could be the upcoming election in Taiwan on January 13th. The military regularly reports on the activities of China’s People’s Liberation Army around Taiwan. Almost every day, fighter jets fly over the unofficial median line in the strait or penetrate the air defense zone. Taiwan’s army must respond.
What is new is that balloons, such as those used for weather measurements, have been flying over Taiwan since December. The discoveries are reminiscent of a Chinese balloon that appeared over the United States just over a year ago. Washington accused China of espionage. Beijing said it was a research balloon that had drifted away.
The benefits of the balloons are still unclear
According to an expert, the balloons over Taiwan are smaller than the ones over the United States. Since January 1st, the military has discovered several of them in its area every day. Six flew over the island during this period, the remaining six flew over the sea along the north coast. The benefits of the air vehicles are still unclear. Beijing has not yet commented on this when asked. Taipei said two balloons were also traveling in Taiwan on Friday. The military also had 13 combat aircraft and 5 warships.
In Taiwan, many suspect the upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections as the reason for China’s actions. At campaign rallies, politicians encouraged people not to be influenced by China’s psychological warfare. Beijing claims Taiwan as its own, even though the country with more than 23 million inhabitants has had a democratically elected government for decades. China wants reunification, if necessary with military means.