On Sunday (24 December), Taiwan's Defence Ministry reported that it had identified eight Chinese fighter jets crossing the median line of the Taiwan Strait in the last 24 hours, in addition to one Chinese balloon.
Over the past four years, Taiwan, viewed by China as part of its territory, has consistently expressed concerns about Chinese military operations in its vicinity.
As the 13 January 2024 presidential and parliamentary elections on the island draw near, China has been intensifying its missions around Taiwan, Hindustan Times reported.
The defense ministry of Taiwan reported that Chinese J-10, J-11, and J-16 fighter jets had breached the median line at various locations to the north and center of the strait.
The line of median, which previously acted as an informal division between the two sides, is now frequently crossed by Chinese aircraft.
The ministry reported that Taiwan dispatched its own troops for surveillance.
The ministry has also noted the presence of another Chinese balloon in the strait, which Taiwan believes is most likely being used for weather monitoring, given the prevalent winds during this time of year. This sighting is the most recent in a series of similar occurrences.
The balloon was reportedly sighted after it crossed the median line late on Saturday morning, 97 nautical miles (180 km) northwest of Keelung, a northern port city in Taiwan, at an approximate altitude of 20,000 feet (6,100 metres).
The ministry further noted that the balloon moved towards the east and vanished approximately an hour later.
The possibility of China utilising balloons for espionage escalated into an international concern in February, following the United States' action of shooting down what they claimed to be a Chinese surveillance balloon. However, China countered this by stating that the balloon was a civilian vessel that had inadvertently gone off course.
Nishtha Anushree is Senior Sub-editor at Swarajya. She tweets at @nishthaanushree.
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