Taiwan finds suspected Chinese weather balloon

time:2023-06-01 17:22:00 source:The Guardian

Taiwan says it has found the remnants of what appears to be a crashed Chinese weather balloon.

Taiwan's military said it had spotted an unidentified object drifting above Dongyin - a Taiwanese-controlled island off China's coast - at 11:00 local time (03:00 GMT) on Thursday.

It later found a crash site on a shooting range.

Initial investigations suggested the remnants were part of a meteorological instrument, the military added.

On Friday, Taiwan's Defence Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng said that officials would further investigate the crashed balloon but would not "jump to conclusions".

This is the first time remnants of such a balloon have been discovered in Taiwan's offshore islands, said senior defence official Chen Yu-lin, according to local media.

Tensions between China and the US have seen a fresh spike in recent weeks, after the US downed what it said was a Chinese surveillance balloon in its airspace earlier this month. The US also shot down three other objects it says are unlikely to be foreign spy crafts.

The sphere found on Dongyin was about a metre in diameter and bore the name of a China-based company that, based on online searches, stocks meteorological and radio appliances.

The company Taiyuan Radio No 1 Factory Co. Ltd is based in Taiyuan, one of China's main industrial bases and capital of Shanxi province.

The sphere was also marked "GTS13 digital atmospheric sounding instrument" and "meteorological instrument", with simplified Chinese language characters, the military said in a statement.

China has used simplified Chinese characters since the 1950s, but Taiwan continues to use traditional characters.

Authorities have not released pictures of the object.

Taiwan's defence ministry said on Tuesday that it had not detected any Chinese surveillance balloons, but it had spotted weather balloons previously. It also said it would not hesitate to shoot down any balloon it deemed a threat.

These comments came after the Financial Times reported earlier this week - citing unnamed officials - that dozens of Chinese military balloons had been spotted in Taiwan's airspace in recent years.

China sees self-ruled Taiwan as a breakaway province that will eventually be under Beijing's control.

But Taiwan sees itself as distinct from the Chinese mainland, with its own constitution and democratically-elected leaders.

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