Some debris from a rocket that took off from China’s Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center landed in waters off the north coast of Taiwan yesterday morning, the Ministry of National Defense said.
The debris fell within the area where China’s Fujian Maritime Safety Administration on Thursday last week said “aeronautic activities” would be held, the ministry said.
Due to the rocket launch, the Fujian agency banned ships from entering the area from 9am to 3pm yesterday, while China’s Civil Aviation Administration prohibited civil aircraft from entering the airspace around the area from 9:30am to 9:57am.
“We were able to monitor the rocket launch using our military’s intelligence and surveillance systems. Some debris from the rocket fell into the waters that China had warned about last week and did not affect our homeland security,” the ministry said.
Aircraft operating in the Taipei Flight Information Region (FIR), and ships navigating the waters off the north coast were safely guided by the Civil Aeronautics Administration and Maritime and Port Bureau respectively, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications said.
The Maritime and Port Bureau continued monitoring shipping routes until 5pm yesterday, the transport ministry said.
Between 9am and 10am, about 33 flights in the Taipei FIR were affected by China’s launch: 14 departing flights, 11 arriving flights and eight transit flights, Civil Aeronautics Administration data showed.
On average, each flight reported a delay of about five to 10 minutes, as they were instructed to take an alternative route, the aviation agency said.
Air traffic controllers in Taiwan and Japan coordinated in advance to ensure that flights would operate safely, smoothly and in an orderly manner, it said.
The rocket was reported to have been carrying the Fengyun-3 07, a Chinese-made meteorological satellite, national security officials said.
Institute for National Defense and Security Research research fellow Shen Ming-shih (沈明室) yesterday said that the launch might be part of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) efforts to develop a fractional orbital bombardment system (FOBS).
“Through the launch, they might gain an understanding of the parameters and prepare for a launch of the FOBS,” he said. “We should observe if a military vessel was dispatched to fetch the rocket debris, or if the launch was held following the military exercises around Taiwan to amplify cognitive warfare” against the nation.
Institute research fellow Shu Hsiao-huang (舒孝煌) said the CCP claimed that it had launched a meteorological satellite to monitor heavy rainfall in regions of low-to-middle latitudes and prevent damage caused by natural disasters.
“Judging from the way that the CCP set up the no-fly zone for the rocket launch, it might start using the same tactic more frequently to disrupt Taiwan’s civil aviation services. Relevant government agencies should formulate countermeasures in advance,” Shu said.
Additional reporting by CNA
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