A record six Chinese balloons flew across Taiwan between 6am on Saturday and 6am yesterday, the Ministry of National Defense (MND) said.
In its daily report on Chinese military activities, the ministry said that the six balloons were among eight that crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait during the 24-hour period.
The eight balloons were detected between 10:05am and 3:34pm on Saturday at altitudes of 3,658m to 10,668m, it said.
Photo courtesy of the Ministry of National Defense
Of the six that crossed Taiwan, some flew over Keelung in the north, while the others flew near Taichung, it added.
The ministry did not comment on the type of balloons involved or say why Beijing had sent them across the median line.
The median line in the Taiwan Strait served for decades as a tacit border, but the Chinese military has sent more aircraft, warships and drones across it since then-US House of Representatives speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan in August 2022.
Saturday and yesterday marked the first day and second day of the new lunar year, which is celebrated on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, as well as by Chinese communities across the globe.
A military spokesman last month said that the daily sending of balloons to Taiwan was part of Chinese “gray zone” tactics in the run-up to the presidential and legislative elections on Jan. 13 and meant to “harass and rattle Taiwanese.”
The military has generally assessed the balloons as being for meteorological purposes, a conclusion drawn in part from its investigation of balloon debris found in February last year around Dongyin Island (東引).
The ministry last year said that similar equipment had been regularly detected in the air and sea around Taiwan, most often between December and February, because seasonal winds bring the balloons closer to Taiwan.
Speaking at a press event on Jan. 9, Colonel Wang Chia-chun (王家駿), deputy head of ministry’s joint operations planning section, said that shooting down the balloons would be “a waste of ammunition” and the exact response China wants from Taiwan.
Taiwan’s standard military response is to issue alerts to the relevant authorities and to closely monitor the balloons’ movements, particularly if they are found to be flying near more densely populated areas, he added.
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