On Thursday, an unidentified civilian drone entered Taiwan’s airspace near an islet off the coast of China. After the government threatened to take severe action against an increase in such intrusions, Taiwan’s military for the first time shot down the drone.
Beijing, which claims Taiwan as its own in defiance of the government in Taipei, has been conducting military drills surrounding the island since early last month in response to Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the US House of Representatives, visiting Taipei.
The Taiwanese government has vowed not to incite or escalate hostilities, but recent instances of Chinese drones repeatedly buzzing Taiwanese-controlled islands near China’s coast have particularly angered them.
In a statement made public by Taiwan’s defense ministry, the defense command for Kinmen, a group of Taiwan-controlled islands next to the Chinese towns of Xiamen and Quanzhou, stated that the drone entered restricted air space over Lion Islet shortly after midday (0400 GMT).
Troops on the islet warned it away but failed, so shot it down, with the remains landing in the sea, it added.
On Tuesday, shortly after President Tsai Ing-wen ordered the military to take “strong countermeasures” against what she called Chinese provocations, Taiwan fired warning shots at a drone for the first time.
On Monday, China’s foreign ministry dismissed Taiwan’s complaints about drones as nothing “to make a fuss about”, referred questions to the defense ministry, which had yet to comment.
Chiu Chui-cheng, deputy head of Taiwan’s China-policy making Mainland Affairs Council, told media in Taipei that Taiwan had the legal right to take “necessary defence measures”, as Chinese aircraft were not allowed into Kinmen’s air space.