Taiwan fires warning shots at Chinese drone
Beijing, Aug 31 (EFE).- Taiwan fired warning shots at a Chinese drone that buzzed an offshore islet just after President Tsai Ing-wen instructed the military to take “strong countermeasures” to protect the island’s airspace.
It is the first in such an incident amid escalated tensions between Taiwan and China, which claims sovereignty over the island.
During an inspection tour of troops stationed on the offshore island of Penghu, Tsai said Taiwan would not provoke or start a war with China, state-owned news agency CNA reported.
However, Taiwan will not shirk countering Chinese provocations, she added.
Chinese drone incursions have increased, especially after a fleeting visit to Taiwan by United States House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that angered China and sparked tensions between Washington and Beijing.
A photo taken by a Chinese drone of two Taiwanese soldiers at a sentry post in the Kinmen Islands went viral last week on both sides of the Taiwan Strait separating the island from the mainland.
The Kinmen, also known as Quemoy, is controlled by Taipei even as it is just 5 km (3 miles) from the southeastern Chinese city of Xiamen.
The island’s defense ministry said that the Chinese drone did not enter Taiwanese airspace.
Chinese netizens have also recently posted clips of the Kinmen Islands recorded with civilian drones, including of Taiwanese military lookout posts.
The Taiwan defense ministry has said it has refrained from aggressive countermeasures to prevent a further escalation of tensions.
Faced with criticism, the Taiwanese military Tuesday released its guidelines of engagement that include “firing warning flares, reporting the incursion, expelling the drone, and ultimately shooting it down.”
The army also announced that it is working on a defense system against drones that will be installed next year in Kinmen and Lienchiang, two offshore counties close to China’s coast.
Tsai recently announced a 14 percent increase in defense spending for the 2023 financial year in the face of what she described as increasing military coercion by Beijing.
China responded to Pelosi’s trip with trade sanctions on the island and military exercises around Taiwan that Taipei said amounted to a “blockade.”
On Sunday, two US navy warships sailed across the international waters of the Taiwan Strait, which led Beijing to accuse the United States of deliberately undermining peace and stability in the region.
China says it will reunify the self-governed island even by force if needed.
The island has been ruled autonomously since the Kuomintang nationalists retreated to Taiwan in 1949 after losing the civil war against the Communists.