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Taiwan shoots down chinese drones, entered restricted airspace over Lion Islet

 
As tensions with China rise, Taiwan shoots down a civilian drone.

Taiwan shot down a civilian drone that flew into its airspace Thursday. The drone was flying over an island just a few miles from China's coast. This has raised fears of a military conflict as Taipei fights back against China's increasing intimidation.

According to Taiwan's Defense Ministry, soldiers stationed on Kinmen, a group of islands controlled by Taiwan that are a few miles from China's east coast, shot down the unidentified drone when it entered restricted airspace over Lion Islet around noon local time. The drone crashed into the water, and the ministry said that no parts of it were found.

Tensions in the Taiwan Strait have grown in the weeks since U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi went to Taipei in August (D-Calif.). Beijing was upset by her visit because it has always said that Taiwan, a self-governing democracy with 24 million people, is part of China, even though the ruling Chinese Communist Party has never been in charge of Taiwan.

Kinmen is a group of islands a few miles from the coast of China that are controlled by Taiwan.
Kinmen is a group of islands a few miles from the coast of China that are controlled by Taiwan.

China's military drills near Taiwan are getting longer after Pelosi's trip.

After Pelosi left, the People's Liberation Army (PLA) started military drills that acted like a blockade of Taiwan and fired missiles over the main island of Taiwan. Taiwan's military says that more PLA military planes are crossing the Taiwan Strait in the middle, which had been a respected informal barrier between Taiwan and China for years.

China also seems to be stepping up what are called "gray zone tactics," which are coercive actions that stop short of a full-blown war and are meant to test the Taiwanese military and scare the people. At least 25 drone incursions were reported by officials in Taiwan in the month of August. Tuesday and Wednesday, Taiwan's military said they shot warning shots at drones that were getting close to islands off the coast of Taiwan.

Zhao Lijian, a spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said he wasn't surprised to see Chinese drones flying over "Chinese territory." On Wednesday, Zhao also said, "The move by Taiwan's government to make things worse doesn't mean anything."

On August 8, a destroyer from China's People's Liberation Army's Eastern Theater Command took part in military drills in the waters around Taiwan.
On August 8, a destroyer from China's People's Liberation Army's Eastern Theater Command took part in military drills in the waters around Taiwan.

A military analyst at Taiwan's Institute for National Defense and Security Research, which is funded by the government, named Su Tzu-yun said that the increase in drone flights into Kinmen is part of China's psychological warfare.

He said, "On the one hand, it's propaganda for Chinese people, and on the other, it's a way to bring down the morale of the people in Taiwan."

In a speech on Tuesday, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen asked the military to respond to China's threats without making things worse. Taiwan's military says that it follows the principle of "preparing for war but not seeking war," but some people are worried that the situation will only get worse.

"What the Chinese Communist Party does next worries me. Chieh Chung, an assistant professor at Tamkang University's Graduate Institute of International Affairs and Strategic Studies, said, "They might send more drones or order civilian ships to surround our offshore islands. This would force us to use stronger weapons to defend ourselves."

"That could make it more likely that other Chinese ships will be nearby, which could give the Chinese an excuse to start bigger military operations against Taiwan," he said.

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