Taiwan fired warning shots at a Chinese drone flying over an islet on Tuesday. Shortly before, President Tsai Ing-wen had ordered the Army to make a “forceful response” to what she had described as China’s provocations. It is the first time that Taipei has fired warning shots in an incident of this type, at a time of high tension between China and Taiwan, which Beijing considers “an inalienable part” of its territory.
The drone returned to China after the shooting, according to a military spokesman. Taiwan has repeatedly complained about Chinese drones flying over a group of small islands it controls off China’s coast. Recently, such incidents have occurred in the Kinmen Islands during the unprecedented military exercises carried out by Beijing following the visit to Taiwan of the president of the United States House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, in early August.
Several Chinese Army planes carry out military maneuvers near the island of Taiwan, on August 7. Photo: AP | Video: EPV
The spokesman for the Kinmen defense command reported that the shots were fired just before 6:00 p.m. local time, 12:00 p.m. in mainland Spain, after firing salvos. The drone was over the Erdan islet. China did not immediately respond or comment on the matter.
This Monday, the Chinese Foreign Ministry, in response to Taiwan’s complaints, considered that the flight of the drones was “nothing to make a scandal about”. Images captured by the drones have been circulating on Chinese social media showing Taiwanese soldiers at their posts and throwing stones at them.
On a visit to forces stationed in the Penghu Islands, Tsai on Tuesday criticized China for its military activities related to drones and other “gray areas.” “I want to tell everyone that the more the enemy provokes, the calmer we must remain,” said the president, who clarified that Taiwan will not provoke disputes and will exercise self-control, but that does not mean that it will not respond. Without giving further details, Tsai reported that she had asked the Defense Ministry for a “strong response” to protect her airspace.
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Taiwanese warships and fighter jets based in Penghu have been patrolling the Taiwan Strait armed during Chinese exercises this month, although they did not open fire at any time. Commander Lee Kuang-ping told reporters during Tsai’s visit that he frequently sent warnings to Chinese ships during the exercises. The boats of both parties came to be about 500 meters apart.
After announcing the cessation of the maneuvers on August 10, the Chinese Army stressed that “the preparation for war and control operations” would continue, as local media had already anticipated. Shortly before, an official report from the Beijing authorities came to light for the first time in 22 years, emphasizing their position that Taiwan is “an inalienable part of China” and showing “the determination and commitment of the Communist and of the Chinese people” with the unification of the island and the mainland.
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