On Wednesday, Taiwan’s Defense Ministry announced that four reconnaissance balloons were launched from China across its borders the previous day.
Three of the surveillance crafts were reported to have passed close to the Ching-Chuan-Kang Air Base, a facility where the island nation launches aerial interception aircraft.
The fourth balloon was said to have passed north of the port of Keelung.
In recent years, the Chinese military has been deploying naval vessels and combat aircraft in and around Taiwanese territorial waters. This aggression is related to Beijing’s desire to exercise sovereignty over the democratically governed nation, for which it recognizes as a province in disunion.
The use of balloons by China as a spying technique came to light in February of 2023 when a similar operation was initiated over the United States. In that instance, a maneuverable balloon carrying intelligence gathering equipment was shot down by the U.S. Air Force after breeching the airspace of U.S. Defense Department facilities. A Chinese government spokesperson classified the apparatus as being used for “meteorological purposes.”
The incursions come as Taiwan is preparing to hold national elections on January 13.