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Taiwan says it spots six more Chinese balloons, one crossed island

A globe is seen in front of Chinese and Taiwanese flags in this illustration, Aug. 6, 2022. — REUTERS/DADO RUVIC/ILLUSTRATION

TAIPEI — Taiwan’s defense ministry said it had detected six more Chinese balloons flying over the Taiwan Strait on Sunday, one of which crossed the island, the latest in a spate of such balloons the ministry says it has seen over the past month-and-a-half.

The ministry earlier this month, in a strongly worded statement, accused China of threatening aviation safety and waging psychological warfare on the island’s people with the balloons, days before Taiwan’s Jan. 13 elections.

China’s defense ministry, which last month declined to comment on the balloons, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. China claims Taiwan as its own territory, despite the strong objections of the government in Taipei.

The potential for China to use balloons for spying became a global issue last February when the United States shot down what it said was a Chinese surveillance balloon. China said the balloon was a civilian craft that accidentally drifted astray.

In the latest incident, revealed by the ministry on Monday in its daily report on Chinese military activities over the past 24 hours, it said six balloons had flown over the strait’s sensitive median line on Sunday.

However, only one crossed Taiwan island, at its southern tip, according to a map the ministry provided.

The other five balloons flew to the north of Taiwan but did not fly over land, the ministry said.

The balloons all headed east before vanishing, it added.

The Taiwan Strait’s median line previously served as an unofficial barrier between Taiwan and China, but Chinese fighter jets, drones and now balloons regularly fly over it.

China says it does not recognize the existence of the median line. — Reuters

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