The military yesterday confirmed media reports that multiple weather balloons used by the Chinese military passed over the country shortly after the Lunar New Year holiday, but said the balloons posed no security threat and were being used for meteorological observations.
“The air force has full understanding of the [balloons’] movements. It is believed they were being be used for meteorological observations,” Ministry of National Defense (MND) spokesman Major General Shih Shun-wen (史順文) said.
Shih’s comments came after Chinese-language United Daily News on Saturday reported that an unspecified number of weather balloons in four groups were released from China’s Fujian Province by a long-range rocket unit of an artillery brigade from the Chinese People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) 72nd Group Army.
Photo: Aaron Tu, Taipei Times
The balloons were detected by air force radar at altitudes from 2,743m to 3,048m above Keelung, Taoyuan and Hsinchu, shortly after the Lunar New Year holiday period, the report said.
The weather balloons raised concerns amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine and following President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) request for the armed forces to remain on high alert, it said.
Even if the balloons were being used for military purposes, they were likely analyzing atmospheric density for the PLA’s Eastern Theater Command and pose no immediate security threat, Institute for National Defense and Security Research analyst Su Tzu-yun (蘇紫雲) said yesterday.
Meanwhile, the MND yesterday posted a video on Facebook to show that the armed forces have increased patrols and strengthened combat preparedness to deter China from attacking Taiwan.
“The military has continued to step up surveillance as it remains alert and closely observes military activities across the Taiwan Strait. We are determined and capable of defending the country,” the ministry said in the video.
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