Taiwan reports Chinese weather balloon incident ahead of presidential election

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File photo.

8th December 2023 – (Taipei) Taiwan’s defence ministry announced on Friday that a Chinese weather balloon had crossed the median line in the Taiwan Strait on Thursday, just a month before the country’s presidential election. Defence Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng stated that their initial assessment indicated that it was a sounding balloon, used for atmospheric research purposes. The incident comes amid heightened tensions between Taiwan and China, with Taiwan accusing Beijing of attempting to influence its elections through military and economic pressure.

Taiwan, officially known as the Republic of China, is viewed by the Chinese government as a part of its territory, and Beijing has been increasingly assertive in its approach towards the island. Over the past four years, China has intensified its military activities in the region, conducting two large-scale military exercises near Taiwan in the past 18 months.

According to Taiwan’s defense ministry, the weather balloon was detected approximately 101 nautical miles (187 kilometres) southwest of Keelung, a northern Taiwanese city. It traveled eastward for about an hour before disappearing. The ministry did not provide further details regarding the specific nature or purpose of the balloon.

Earlier this year, Taiwan’s defence ministry reported a similar incident in which a balloon landed on a remote Taiwanese-held islet near the Chinese coast. The ministry clarified that the balloon was being used for weather monitoring and did not contain any audio-visual recording equipment.