TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwanese officials have revealed that Chinese military balloons have been entering Taiwan's airspace "very frequently" with dozens of such intrusions recorded in recent years.
Amid the uproar over the appearance of a Chinese spy balloon and three other unidentified objects over North America in recent days, Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense (MND) on Feb. 10 confirmed that the Air Force had monitored four balloons flying over Taiwan in February and March 2022. However, a senior official was quoted by Financial Times on Monday (Feb. 13) as saying that Chinese military surveillance balloons have been entering Taiwan's airspace "very frequently" with the most recent incursion taking place "a few weeks ago."
Another source familiar with the matter told the newspaper that the intrusions are averaging "once a month." It also cited Taiwanese officials as saying that Chinese-made balloons fly at about 20,000 feet and their dimensions and payload exceed those of weather balloons designated for flights over sovereign airspace.
The news agency cited military and intelligence experts as saying that the balloons detected over Taiwan were devised by the Equipment Development Department of the Central Military Commission. According to one Taiwanese official, some of the balloons are launched by the People's Liberation Army Air Force, while others are dispatched by the People's Liberation Army Rocket Force.
According to sources in Taiwan and a U.S. ally, the balloons are measuring atmospheric data to improve the accuracy of radar and missile systems. Such atmospheric measurements need to be constantly updated to take into account seasonal and yearly changes.
The MND has yet to respond to a request from Taiwan News to comment on the claims of regular intrusions by Chinese spy balloons over Taiwan.