back to article Three Chinese balloons float near Taiwanese airbase

Four Chinese balloons have reportedly floated over the Taiwan Strait, three of them crossing over the island's land mass and near its Ching-Chuan-Kang air base before disappearing, according to the Taiwan's defense ministry. An appearance of a similar Chinese balloon caused quite a stir in the US last February (see sidebar). …

  1. Khaptain Silver badge

    Might be the right time to leave

    Personally my house would have been on sale for quite ome time in the hope that I could leave before the inevitable happens.

    Weather balloons ? Is that like " We do know weather to attach imediately or wait a little" kind of weather ? Dictionaries appear to change according to the incumbent government's whims nowadays.

    1. llaryllama

      Re: Might be the right time to leave

      China has been making threats and kicking off periodically since 1949. In Taiwan we pretty much ignore themnand get on with our lives. They will never start a hot war they won't definitely win unless the domestic situation deteriorates to a point that some external enemy/distraction is needed.

      1. Binraider Silver badge

        Re: Might be the right time to leave

        The certainty about "never starting a hot war" is not something that anyone should be so reliant on. China's domestic situation is not great and there are a lot of disgruntled, well educated under 35's without the "good" jobs they were promised to go to. The failures in their housing markets are not insignificant.

        Taiwan has many strong allies; but if I were intending to cause a ruckus, doing it at a time while their resources are distracted and depleted by other events would in so many ways be the ideal time to consider such an action.

        Ukraine, Israel, Yemen... And, speculatively, for similar reasons, Iran, North Korea? All of em together would pose an enormous strain on resources. Individually, "difficult" but not insurmountable.

        You have to admit the sabre rattling by China, while always there, has really ratcheted up to levels not seen before.

        Temper the paranoia with reinforcing our defensive capabilities and, well, all "should" be well. If you want peace, prepare for war as the old saying goes.

  2. alain williams Silver badge

    China will be encouraged ...

    by relative inaction in dealing with [[ie stopping]] other conflicts, notably Ukraine and Gaza.

    Other than a few words little has happened about their abuses in Hong Kong.

    1. llaryllama

      Re: China will be encouraged ...

      The situation is a little different as Hong Kong was never an independent sovereign state, like it or not it was always known that the lease would end.

      Taiwan is also quite different from Ukraine as our military is self sufficient with capabilities to make our own advanced missiles, submarines, jet fighters etc. There is also the mind boggling complexity of landing troops on an unsinkable aircraft carrier surrounded by sea mines and anti-air defenses.

  3. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

    Are you sure?

    Are you sure that Chinese military aircraft entered Taiwan's airspace? That would be big news!

    What's been happening in most of the recent crises is Chinese aircraft entering Taiwan's Air-Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) - which is not the same thing. It's an aggressive move - China doesn't like it when anyone enters their ADIZ - but it's not an act of aggression - which entering Taiwanese airspace would be. Giving Taiwan the right to shoot them down - as Turkey did to Russia a few years ago. Where a Russian plane briefly got a bit confused as to where the Syria/Turkey border was.

    Of course the balloon last year definitely did enter US airspace. And eventually the US shot it down.

    1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

      Re: Are you sure?

      And in the 60s and 70s, five American U-2 planes were shot down while on surveillance missions over China.

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: Are you sure?

        I'd forgotten about those. They were flown by Taiwan - but a quick web search suggests that planes were on some kind of loan rather than actually owned by them.

        I wonder why they didn't stop overflights of China in the way they did with Soviet flights after Garry Powers was shot down?

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Are you sure?

      It wasn't the first Chinese balloon over the USA and it only became news because someone outside the mlitary noticed both it and that various activities were being stopped when it was nearby

  4. mikus

    They really mean the reunification of TSMC with China. All your GPU are belong to us!

  5. martinusher Silver badge

    The Spy Balloon that wasn't

    Lost in the media wash was the official pronouncement that the spy balloon that caused such a big fuss last year wasn't an intelligence gathering device. Apparently we need to believe it was.

    Also forgotten seems to be the second balloon that was shot down around the same time. This high altitude balloon was operated by a Chicago based hobby group and was on its second circumnavigation of the Earth. This would either use amateur radio or (more likely) a cellphone to report where it was and what it was doing.

    Its far more likely that the Chinese are spying on Taiwan using a variety of modern techniques (satellites, signals, internet, human) but I think its unlikely they'd use balloons. Especially free flying ones. Please keep it real....

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: The Spy Balloon that wasn't

      Martinusher,

      Please can you give a link for that official announcement that it wasn't a spy balloon. My recollection from last year was that it was thought to be a spy device, from recovered wreckage - that it had been actively controlled in order to stay in airspace near US bases for longer than if it was blown by the wind (I assume that means it changed height to get some control) and that it was thought not to have transmitted any data back.

      A quick Google shows no announcement that it was harmless and a couple of stories about FBI official announcements that it was a spy device. However it's not a story that I followed - because it was clear that good information wasn't getting to the press - and it would be interesting to know what the latest thoughts are on it, now some time has passed.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The Spy Balloon that wasn't

        Try googling a bit harder.

        https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-66062562

        https://edition.cnn.com/2023/06/29/politics/china-surveillance-balloon-pentagon-intl-hnk/index.html

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: The Spy Balloon that wasn't

          Anon,

          Thanks for posting the links. Shame about the sarcasm...

          The only problem is the OP had said that the official announcement was that the "spy balloon" wasn't actaully an intelligence gathering device.

          Your first BBC piece:

          Pentagon spokesperson Brigadier General Pat Ryder said on Thursday that the US was "aware that [the balloon] had intelligence collection capabilities".

          But "it has been our assessment now that it did not collect while it was transiting the United States or over flying the United States".

          He said the efforts the US took to mitigate any intelligence gathering "contributed" to the balloon's failure to gather sensitive information.

          As you can see - what the official statement is saying is the exact opposite of what the OP claims.

          The US (public) assessment is that it was a spy balloon, but that it either didn't collect or didn't transmit any useful data, so far as the US government can tell (or is at least willing to admit).

          Either because it wasn't trying to collect info on the US (it just so happened to have drifted over there) - or because the US had hidden sensitive stuff from it, or because they'd jammed its communications. Or some combination of all of the above?

  6. Trixr

    Nena has it covered

    Ein und ein und ein Luftballons

    Auf ihrem Weg zum Horizont...

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