The Taiwanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) released a statement this weekend denouncing China’s spy balloon over the United States as an intolerable offense against international law and sovereignty.
“Such actions by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) government contravene international law, breach the airspace of other countries, and violate their sovereignty,” MOFA said.
“The government of the Republic of China (Taiwan) notes that these instances should not be tolerated by the civilized international community. The CCP regime should immediately cease conduct of this kind that encroaches on other countries and causes regional instability,” the statement concluded.
Taiwan is naturally very sensitive to the notion of territorial violations by the Chinese military. China has been sending flights of military aircraft into Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) for years, with a pronounced increase in such activity over the past year.
The largest incursion to date occurred on the day after Christmas last year, when 71 Chinese warplanes entered the ADIZ over the course of 24 hours.
Chinese ships and planes are increasingly contemptuous of the “median line,” the unofficial border running through the middle of the Taiwan Strait that was long recognized as a straightforward method of avoiding misunderstandings and escalation.
Over half of the Chinese planes in the December 26 incursion crossed the median line, for example. On January 8, 2023, China held a “combat strike drill” in which 28 of its warplanes crossed the median line.
China approached Taiwan with over a dozen military aircraft and four surface vessels on Friday, while the spy balloon was passing over the U.S. mainland.
Also in January, a Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) pilot claimed he went even further and flew into Taiwan’s national airspace in his J-20 stealth fighter. The PLA pilot, Capt. Yang Jucheng, said he was never detected by the Taiwanese military.
“I said to myself at that time, I will fly over in the future! There is no such thing as the Taiwan Strait. This line or that line!” Yang exclaimed during an interview with Chinese state media.
Chen Yun-peng, caucus director for Taiwan’s governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), said on Monday that any Chinese spy balloons sent over Taiwan should be shot down immediately, because “it should not be there in the first place.”
According to the Taiwanese defense ministry, a Chinese meteorological balloon did pass over northern and central Taiwan in February 2022, shortly after the Lunar New Year holiday. Taiwanese forces did not fire on the balloon, but they carefully monitored its passage.