In a first, Taiwan shoots down Chinese drone: Report
In a first such incident, the military forces of Taiwan shot down an unidentified drone that had entered its airspace near the Chinese coast on Thursday. The unidentified civilian drone had entered Taiwan's airspace over one of its islands located close to China. The development comes only weeks after the contentious visit of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, which triggered Chinese military drills.
Why does this story matter?
- Tensions had escalated between China and Taiwan following Pelosi's visit, primarily because Beijing claims Taiwan as its own.
- Pelosi's trip was preceded by stern warnings from China that it will take resolute and aggressive measures for upholding its national sovereignty and territorial integrity.
- Immediately after, China conducted military drills on islands close to Taiwan and continued small acts of aggression.
Drone spotted over Taiwanese island near Chinese coast
While the Taiwanese government has repeatedly said that it will not escalate tensions, it has seemingly been angered by China. Over the last few days, there have been multiple instances of Chinese drones buzzing over Taiwan's islands. According to the defense command for Kinmen (Taiwan-controlled islands near China), a drone entered restricted airspace over the Lion Islet around 4:00 am GMT.
'Chinese act of provocation'
According to Reuters, a Taiwanese defense ministry statement said that troops tried to warn the drone away but had to shoot it down after it didn't budge. In a first, the island nation fired a warning shot at a drone on Tuesday after President Tsai Ing-wen directed the military to take "strong countermeasures" against "Chinese provocation". China has termed Taiwan's complaints as mere "fuss".
Official statement from the island nation
"We have the legal authority to take necessary defence measures," Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council deputy head Chiu Chui-cheng told reporters. He stressed that Chinese aircraft are not allowed into Kinmen's air space. On Thursday, President Ing-wen said that China was using "grey zone" methods to intimidate Taiwan. "Let the military guard the country without fear and with solid confidence," she said in a statement.
Here's more about the Kinmen islands
Kinmen is located about a few hundred metres from Chinese territory. Taiwan has been in control of Kinmen since 1949, when the Republic of China government came to Taipei to run away, having lost the civil war to Mao Zedong and his communists. Now tourist destinations, China regularly dropped shell bombs on Kinmen during the Cold War.