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Netizens concerned by Chinese rocket flying south of Taiwan

'UFO' Long March 7A that blasted off from Hainan on Thursday carrying 2 satellites

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(Weibo image)

(Weibo image)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — What a Taiwanese netizen on Thursday night (Dec. 23) described as a "UFO" flying off the southern coast of Taiwan appears to have been a Chinese rocket, according to military experts.

On Thursday evening, a member of a Taiwanese Facebook group (爆料公社) based in Houying in Tainan City's Xigang District posted a photo of an object with a long contrail like a comet or rocket and described it as a "UFO" flying in the sky. The video led some Taiwanese netizens to speculate that the People's Liberation Army (PLA) was testing a military rocket.

Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense (MND) denied that it had fired any rockets or missiles that evening. The MND stressed that it had closely monitored the situation over Taiwan's territorial waters and airspace and that "the current situation is normal."

At 8 p.m. on Thursday evening, military analyst Henri Kenhmann reported on his Twitter account East Pendulum that a Long March 7A (CZ-7A Y3) had blasted off from Wenchang Space Launch Site in Hainan, China. Kenhmann stated that the rocket was carrying two SY-12 satellites designed by the China Academy of Space Technology and will be "officially used" for the analysis of the space environment in geosynchronous equatorial orbit.

Kenhmann posted a Google Earth map that showed the trajectory of rocket starting from Hainan and flying south of Taiwan and just north of the Philippine island of Luzon. He then posted a video of the rocket posted on Weibo reportedly taken from a passenger plane at an altitude of 10,000 meters near the city of Guangzhou.

Netizens concerned by Chinese rocket flying south of Taiwan
Rocket on launch pad. (Weibo image)

Netizens concerned by Chinese rocket flying south of Taiwan
Closeup view of CZ-7A rocket. (Twitter, East pendulum image)

Netizens concerned by Chinese rocket flying south of Taiwan
Rocket blasting off. (Weibo image)

Netizens concerned by Chinese rocket flying south of Taiwan
(Facebook, Breaking News Commune image)

Netizens concerned by Chinese rocket flying south of Taiwan
(Facebook, Breaking News Commune image)

Netizens concerned by Chinese rocket flying south of Taiwan
Map of rocket's trajectory. (Twitter, East pendulum image)