The Ministry of National Defense yesterday denied reports that an air force pilot accidentally fired a decoy projectile while intercepting Chinese military aircraft.
The report, which appeared on Monday in the Chinese-language China Times, was picked up on Tuesday by Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post, prompting analysis by a military researcher in Singapore, but ministry spokesman Major General Chen Chung-chi (陳中吉) said the incident never occurred.
The ministry previously has said that it has a policy of “monitoring, warning and expelling, but not provoking or intimidating” foreign aggressors that enter or approach the nation’s territory — a policy aimed at “safeguarding the nation’s territorial security.”
Photo courtesy of the Ministry of National Defense
The China Times quoted an anonymous source, who did not specify the date or location of the alleged incident, as saying that the act had not provoked a reaction from the Chinese aircraft.
“The firing of an infrared decoy projectile is a defensive act, so it did not lead to an exchange of fire,” it quoted the source as saying.
The report said that a similar incident had allegedly occurred when the air force was monitoring a US P-3C surveillance plane operating near the nation’s airspace.
The air force has never reported either incident, but if they occurred, they could be taken as evidence of increasing tension in the Taiwan Strait, the China Times added.
“Under tense circumstances there is a risk of accidental or inadvertent use of force,” said Collin Koh, a research fellow on naval affairs and maritime security at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University.
If China’s People’s Liberation Army continues to conduct drills around Taiwan, tensions would continue to build, which might eventually lead to an “unfortunate disaster,” Koh said.
Former deputy minister of defense Lin Chong-pin (林中斌) said a decision by President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) administration to reduce the number of fighter jets scrambled to intercept Chinese military aircraft signals that the government is taking a restrained approach toward the drills.
The air force has been keeping a distance of 30km when monitoring aircraft to prevent accidents from occurring, the China Times said.
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