February 23, 2024


A kid runs across the flag of Taiwan banner during the announcement of official results on January 13, 2024 in Taipei, Taiwan.

Sawayasu Tsuji | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Taiwan’s defense ministry said on Sunday it had detected eight Chinese balloons crossing the Taiwan Strait in the previous 24 hours, of which five flew across Taiwan, the second day in a row is has reported a large number of balloons.

Taiwan, which China claims as its own territory despite the strong objections of the government in Taipei, has complained since December about the balloons, saying they are a threat to aviation safety and attempt at psychological warfare.

In its daily report on Chinese military activities, Taiwan’s defense ministry said it spotted the first balloon on Saturday morning and the last one mid-afternoon, having spotted the same number of balloons on Friday.

Five crossed the northern and central part of Taiwan, according to a map provided by the ministry.

China’s defense ministry did not answer calls seeking comment on Sunday. Both China and Taiwan are currently celebrating the Lunar New Year holiday, the most important festival in the Chinese-speaking world.

Last month, China’s government dismissed repeated complaints by Taiwan about the balloons, saying they are for meteorological purposes and should not be hyped up for political reasons.

Chinese warplanes operate daily in the Taiwan Strait and often cross its median line that previously served as an unofficial barrier between the two sides. China says it does not recognize the existence of that line.

Taiwan last month elected Vice President Lai Ching-te as its next president, a man China describes as a dangerous separatist.

Lai, who takes office in May, has offered talks with China, which have been rejected. He says only Taiwan’s people can decide their future.

The potential for China to use balloons for spying became a global issue last February when the United States shot down what it said was a Chinese surveillance balloon. China said the balloon was a civilian craft that accidentally drifted astray.



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