Taiwan says it spotted 6 more Chinese balloons, one crossed island

Taiwan says it spotted 6 more Chinese balloons, one crossed island

TAIPEI — Taiwan’s defense ministry said it had detected six more Chinese balloons flying over the Taiwan Strait on Sunday, one of which crossed the island, the latest in a spate of such balloons the ministry says it has seen in the past month-and-a-half.

The ministry earlier this month, in a strongly worded statement, accused China of threatening aviation safety and waging psychological warfare on the island’s people with the balloons, days before Taiwan’s Jan. 13 elections.

China’s defense ministry, which last month declined to comment on the balloons, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. China claims Taiwan as its own territory, despite the strong objections of the government in Taipei.

The potential for China to use balloons for spying became a global issue in February when the United States shot down what it said was a Chinese surveillance balloon. China said the balloon was a civilian craft that accidentally drifted astray.

In its daily report on Chinese military activities in the past 24 hours, the agency said six balloons had flown over the strait’s sensitive median line on Sunday.

But only one crossed Taiwan island, at its southern tip, according to a map the ministry provided.

The other five balloons flew to the north of Taiwan but did not fly over land, the ministry said. The balloons all headed east before vanishing, it added.

The Taiwan Strait’s median line previously served as an unofficial barrier between Taiwan and China, but Chinese fighter jets, drones and now balloons regularly fly over it.

China says it does not recognize the existence of the median line. — Reuters