Defense authority on Taiwan island hypes drifting mainland weather balloons, attempting to stir panic: expert
Published: Dec 20, 2023 05:00 PM
A view of Taipei Photo: IC

A view of Taipei Photo: IC

Despite admitting the balloons were for meteorological purposes and were drifting due to monsoon, the defense authority on the island of Taiwan repeatedly announced the presence of mainland balloons near the island over recent days to hype the "threat" of the mainland, analysts said on Wednesday.

A Chinese mainland balloon was detected on Tuesday after crossing the so-called median line of the Taiwan Straits at the location 63 nautical miles northwest of Keelung at an altitude of approximately 12,000 feet (about 3,660 meters,) before disappearing in the early morning on Wednesday, the defense authority on the island of Taiwan said in a press release on Wednesday.

It marks the third day the island has reported mainland balloon presence near the island. The island's defense authority reported the presence of another balloon on Tuesday and the presence of two balloons on Monday, as the balloons drifted in similar directions.

On December 8, the defense authority on the island also reported a similar mainland balloon activity, with a spokesperson saying that the armed forces on the island identified the object as a normal weather balloon, adding that it approached the island of Taiwan due to monsoon, local media reported.

The island's defense authority publicly reported the weather balloons' activities "for the completeness of information," its spokesperson claimed.
However, some Western media outlets, including AP and Reuters, linked the drifting weather balloon to the China-US balloon incident that took place in February, when the US shot down an unmanned Chinese civilian airship accusing it of being a "spy balloon," even when a spokesperson at the island's defense authority again stated on Wednesday that while the balloons are from the Chinese mainland, they are not necessarily from the People's Liberation Army, while noting that "most of the ones we have spotted so far are weather balloons."

The defense authority on the island of Taiwan knows full well that "balloon" has become a sensitive word after the China-US balloon incident, so even if it acknowledges that the balloons from the mainland were solely for meteorological purposes, and were unintentionally blown across the narrow Straits by wind, it used the case to hype "threats" from the mainland to stir panic among residents in the island and attempted to rally support from external interfering forces, a mainland military expert who requested anonymity told the Global Times on Wednesday.