Three more balloons from China were detected flying over Taiwan on Sunday, January 7, which was first spotted over the past month.
In the days leading up to a presidential election, certain balloons have flown directly over Taiwan, with at least one being detected in the vicinity of a military airbase.
Starting from December, Taiwan’s defense ministry has reported the presence of enigmatic balloons traversing the narrow Taiwan Strait, creating a form of “grey zone” harassment between the island and China.
“Grey zone” tactics refer to aggressive maneuvers employed by a state that fall short of direct warfare. Experts suggest that China has been utilizing this approach through its displays of military strength around the island.
“Beijing is signaling that it can violate Taiwanese airspace at will and challenge its sovereignty,” said Raymond Kuo, Taiwan Policy Initiative director at RAND Corporation.
China asserts its claim over self-ruled Taiwan, considering it as part of its territory, and Beijing’s leadership is determined to assert control over the island.
In the upcoming January 13 election, the primary candidate, Lai Ching-te, representing the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, advocates for Taiwan’s sovereignty as a nation. Meanwhile, the other two candidates have committed to fostering friendlier ties with Beijing.
The timing of the balloons’ appearance is “political”, said Kuo.
“The CCP (Chinese Communist Party) is attempting to demoralize the Taiwanese public in the run-up to next week’s presidential and legislative elections,” he told AFP.
It also said they posed a “serious threat” to aviation routes.
Meanwhile, China’s defense ministry denies the accusations regarding the balloons and instead accused Taiwan of attempting to “manipulate the election.”
Ahead of Saturday’s presidential and parliamentary elections, Taiwan is vigilant against heightened Chinese military and political engagement. Taiwan asserts that China is applying military and economic pressure in an effort to interfere with the elections.
Taiwan is closely monitoring Chinese military and political movements in anticipation of this Saturday’s presidential and parliamentary elections. Taiwan alleges that China is applying both military and economic pressure in an effort to disrupt the elections.