Mainland weather balloons drifting over Taiwan island unintentional, should not be sensationalized as threat: experts
Published: Jan 04, 2024 09:39 PM Updated: Jan 04, 2024 10:39 PM
The view of Taipei Photo: VCG

The view of Taipei Photo: VCG

Taiwan's Democratic Progressive Party(DPP) authorities have continuously sensationalized Chinese mainland balloons flying over the island since the start of 2024 despite knowing that they were for meteorological purposes and drifted due to seasonal winds, a move experts said on Thursday aims to hype up the "mainland threat" theory, stir up confrontation and snare votes in the upcoming regional election.

The defense authority on the island of Taiwan said in a press release on Thursday that it detected three Chinese mainland balloons after they crossed the so-called median line of the Taiwan Straits on Wednesday, and one of them flew over the island.

It marks the third consecutive day that the defense authority on the island has reported mainland balloon flyovers, as similar incidents also took place on Monday and Tuesday. 

In December 2023, the island also reported cases in which balloons from the mainland crossed the Taiwan Straits but did not fly over the island.

After a balloon crossed the Taiwan Straits on December 7, 2023, a spokesperson at the island's defense authority noted that the balloon was a normal weather balloon, and it had approached the island of Taiwan due to seasonal winds.

Analysts reached by the Global Times agreed that the balloons are for meteorological purposes, and similar cases have taken place in the past.

Just as the defense authority on the island of Taiwan admitted, the balloons from the mainland side are for weather purposes and they drifted away because of the wind, a force of nature, a mainland aviation expert who requested anonymity told the Global Times on Thursday.

Mainland meteorological researchers do not intend for the balloons drift away. They would want the balloons stay where they were designated to stay and not drift, the expert said.

However, media on the island as well as some Western media disregarded this common knowledge and sensationalized the incidents. Some said that the balloon flyovers were "provocative," some noted that the balloons flew near a major air base, some maliciously compared the incidents to the China-US balloon incident in early 2023, and some linked the events to the upcoming Taiwan regional election.

Experts refuted the possibility that the balloons are for military purposes like reconnaissance, because such balloons would be much bigger and fly at much higher altitudes than those reported by the defense authority on the island of Taiwan.

When ask for a comment at a regular press conference on December 28, 2023, about the balloons flying over the Taiwan Straits since December, Senior Colonel Wu Qian, a spokesperson at China's Ministry of National Defense, referred to the relevant authority.

It means that Wu denied that the balloons are related to the mainland military, observers said.

Responding to speculations on the balloons' links to Taiwan's upcoming regional election, Wu said that the Democratic Progressive Party authority's hyping up of "mainland election interference" is just an often-used election tactic aimed at stirring up confrontation and snaring votes.

Sensationalizing the mainland balloons as "threats" is a trick used by "Taiwan independence" secessionist forces and external interference forces to create a "mainland threat" theory, misguide public opinion and win votes in the upcoming Taiwan regional election, experts said.