Taiwan said its military forces fired warning flares at a suspected Chinese drone that flew by the Taiwanese-controlled island of Dongyin on Thursday.
The Ministry of National Defense for the Republic of China (the formal name of the Taiwanese government) said a drone twice “glanced by” its air space over Dongyin, as Reuters reported. Dongyin island is part of the Matsu archipelago off the coast of China’s Fujian province and has been controlled by Taiwan since 1949.
Though Taiwan governs itself as a de facto independent nation, China considers the island a part of China’s territory.
The Taiwanese defense ministry said it was “not ruling out” the possibility that the drone was probing their defenses on Dongyin and testing their military reaction time. The Taiwanese forces responded by firing warning flares at the drone.
The Taiwanese military did not formally identify the drone, but a senior official familiar with the incident told Reuters that it was a Chinese drone and likely one of China’s newer CSC-005 drone models.
The Taiwanese military encounter with a suspected Chinese drone comes amid already high tensions between China and Taiwan. China has increasingly alluded to “reunification” with Taiwan through military force.
This week, Chinese officials condemned ongoing Taiwanese military drills. On Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian criticized Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-Wen for overseeing the annual air and naval military drills and said, “The path of ‘Taiwan independence’ will lead to a dead end. If Taiwan wants to confront the mainland militarily, it will only find it futile and doomed to fail.”
The reported encounter with a Chinese drone also comes amid increased tensions between China and the U.S.
Earlier this month, after reports broke that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would visit Taiwan in August, Zhao threatened “China will take strong and resolute measures to safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity” and said “the US must assume full responsibility for any ensuing consequences.”
Last week, President Joe Biden reportedly said U.S. military officials he spoke with said it’s “not a good idea” for Pelosi to go through with her plans to visit Taiwan. The U.S. military is reportedly bolstering its forces in the Indo-Pacific region in the event Pelosi does decide to vist Taiwan. If Pelosi does go through with the visit, it will be the first time a serving U.S. Speaker of the House will have visited the island in 25 years.