Taiwan says it has spotted no Chinese surveillance balloons
TAIPEI — Taiwan has not spotted any surveillance balloons from China in its vicinity, the island’s defense ministry said on Tuesday, as a dispute between China and the United States over spy balloons triggers worries about rising military tensions.
The U.S. military on Feb. 4 shot down what it called a Chinese spy balloon over South Carolina.
China said the balloon was a civilian research craft that had mistakenly blown off course and on Monday it accused the United States of sending its spy balloons over China. The United States denied that.
A Taiwan military intelligence officer said the armed forces had not seen any surveillance balloons from China near the island that were similar to the one shot down over the United States.
“The majority of the balloons near our waters were used for meteorological purposes,” the officer, Major General Huang Wen-chi, told a regular briefing in Taipei, adding that the weather balloons posed no serious security threat.
He said the military would destroy any balloon approaching Taiwan’s territory that posed “high security threats” but no such action had been necessary.
The balloons detected near Taiwan has no steering capability and thus they were unlikely to be used for surveillance purposes, he added.
Beijing claims self-ruled Taiwan as its territory and has ramped up its military activities near the island in recent years, raising fears Beijing might try to take control of the it by force.
Taiwan vows to defend itself if attacked, saying Beijing’s sovereignty claims are void as the People’s Republic of China has never governed the island.