Taiwan downs ‘Chinese drone’ over outlying islet

The Taiwanese military shot down an “unidentified drone” on Thursday that was spotted flying over Lion islet in Kinmen, the first time after days of drone incursions from China.

An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), believed to be non-military, was detected just after noon in the restricted area over the islet, the Kinmen Defense Command said in a statement.

Stationed soldiers fired warning shots but the drone did not fly away, and they took the decision to shoot it down, the Command said, adding that the drone fell into the sea.

“About time we shot those drones down,” said Timothy Tsai, a Kinmen resident who heads a local military history group.

“They were laughing at us,” Tsai said, adding he was quite certain the downed drone was from China.

“Hopefully from now on the drone owners will think twice before sending them this way,” he said. 

Taiwan’s Defense Ministry announced on Tuesday that the military will begin shooting down Chinese drones that intrude into the airspace of its outlying islands.

Since mid-August, Chinese civilian drones have been spotted flying frequently over the outlying island of Kinmen, 180 kilometers (112 miles) from Taiwan’s main island but less than 10 kilometers (6 miles) from China.

On Wednesday, three batches of drones were spotted at three locations in Kinmen but flew away after warnings. 

Lion, also known as Shi or Shihyu, is an islet located northwest of Little Kinmen (Lieyu) island in Taiwan’s outlying Kinmen County. Virtually a rock, Lion is the smallest Taiwanese island with troops stationed on it.

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen on Tuesday instructed the military to take a tough response to Chinese drone incursions. 

“I have ordered the Ministry of National Defense to take necessary and strong countermeasures at appropriate times, to defend the security of the nation’s territorial airspace,” Tsai said during an inspection tour of Penghu, another outlying island. 

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen poses for photographs with pilots at an air force base on the Penghu islands on August 30, 2022. CREDIT: AFP

Large number of Chinese aircraft

The defense ministry in Taipei said it tracked 62 Chinese military aircraft and seven naval vessels around Taiwan on Wednesday, including 15 aircraft that entered the island’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) but did not cross the median line of the Taiwan Strait.

An ADIZ is an area where foreign aircraft are tracked and identified before further entering into a country’s airspace.

Chinese aircraft have entered Taiwan’s ADIZ every day since the beginning of August, creating a “new normal” that Taipei is concerned about. 

Beijing regards Taiwan, a self-governing island located about 100 miles (160 kilometers) off the mainland, as part of China.

There are concerns that some outlying islands under Taipei’s control, including Kinmen, Penghu and Matsu, could be the first targets of China’s future attacks.

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