Taiwan Shoots Down Possible Chinese Drone

Photo by SAM YEH/AFP via Getty Images)

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Micaela Burrow Investigative Reporter, Defense
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Taiwan’s military shot down an unidentified drone that violated its airspace Thursday following the government’s promise to respond with force if China continues to make incursions into Taiwanese territory, The Guardian reported.

Taiwanese troops took defensive action for the first time, downing the civilian aerial vehicle after warning measures failed to dispel it just after noon local time, The Guardian reported. The incident occurred just one day after Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) threatened a counterattack against any Chinese troops or weaponry that come within 12 nautical miles of the self-governing island’s territory.

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, speaking to MOD forces earlier on Thursday, accused China of using “gray zone” tactics, including drone overflights, to intimidate Taiwan, The Guardian reported, citing the president’s office.

Taiwanese troops launched signal flares to warn the drone away after it flew over restricted waters near the Shihyu Islet, part of an island chain close to the coastal mainland, local news TVBS reported. The drone is being described as civilian, but it is not clear whether the adjective describes a non-combatant operator or commercial technology in the use of Chinese forces.

Tsai earlier ordered the military to take “strong countermeasures” if China continues to make incursions into Taiwanese air and sea territory, according to The Guardian. (RELATED: US Navy Warships Transit Through Taiwan Strait As Chinese Military Looks On)

“For aircraft and ships that entered our sea and air territory of 12 nautical miles, the national army will exercise right to self-defense and counter-attack without exception,” Lin Wen-Huang, Taiwan’s deputy chief of the general staff for operations and planning, said at a press conference Wednesday.

Warships launching countermeasures are seen on a screen showing a real-time feed from an indigenously-made Rui Yuan unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), during a military exercise at the Pingtung Air Force Base in southern Taiwan on January 24, 2019. (SAM YEH/AFP via Getty Images)

The MND fired warning shots for the first time Tuesday to ward off a sortie of Chinese military drones that came near the Kinmen islands, the same general location where the Thursday event took place, Reuters reported.

Drones flew near the Kinmens three more times in the subsequent two days, and MND forces responded with warning shots.

China has repeatedly sent drones to surveil the Taiwan-controlled islands since launching large-scale military exercises in response to U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s in-person meeting with Tsai, Reuters reported. Videos of private drones flying near the islands to take pictures also circulated widely on Chinese social media since.

China dismissed Taiwan’s concerns of gray-zone harassment from the unmanned vehicles. “Chinese drones flying over China’s territory—what’s there to be surprised at?” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said at a press briefing Monday.

Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council and the Chinese foreign ministry did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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