Taiwan accused the People’s Republic of China of launching at least four spy balloons over the island nation, a reminder of not only current tensions between the two countries but also the spy balloon shot down over the United States in early 2023.
Taiwan said this week that four spy balloons transited the country Tuesday, adding that at least three of them flew over a sensitive military base. Three balloons entered airspace near one of Taiwan’s key air force bases while another flew near an important port.
The announcement by Taipei’s defense ministry added pressure to the country ahead of a key election on Jan. 13. Both Taiwan’s president and members of its national legislature are up for election. Currently, polls suggest that the party supporting independence from Beijing is in the lead.
— The Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) January 3, 2024
Following Taipei’s announcement, a fifth balloon was discovered near the island.
China did not release any information about the latest balloon sighting. However, Beijing has threatened potential military action to unify Taiwan. Taiwan, or the Republic of China, separated from the mainland following the victory of the Chinese Communist Party during that country’s civil war in the 1940s.
The Taiwan revelation came less than a week after the United States determined that China used American internet providers to send back data to Beijing.
Washington stated that the balloon was able to use the American infrastructure to send significant amounts of data in short bursts.
Following a transit of the continental United States, the Biden administration shot down the craft off the coast of South Carolina. Many Republicans criticized what they called a slow response from the Biden administration on the issue.
Following the discovery of the first balloon, it was revealed that China had been using similar methods of information gathering against the United States.
China denied any wrongdoing, stating that the craft was simply a weather balloon not intended to fly over the United States.
A Chinese embassy spokesperson said that the balloon, “used for meteorological research, unintentionally drifted into U.S. because of the westerlies and its limited self-steering capability.”