Taiwan says that it can shoot down Chinese drones that get too close to its control areas in the South China Sea. The Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy has stepped up activity in the area, putting more pressure on the Taiwanese defense forces.
Chinese drone spotted flying near Taiwan
Taiwan has detected Chinese drones flying around the Pratas Islands located in the South China Sea. A warning was issued they will be shot down if they loiter too close, said a government minister last Wednesday. It is only one of Beijing's provocations to heighten tensions more, reported the Epoch Times.
Lee Chung-Wei, the head of the Ocean Affairs Council whose responsibilities include the Coast Guard, spoke in parliament about the recent incident. He reported the Chinese deployed drones that avoid flying over the Taiwanese ADIZ covering the Pratas or Dongsha (Chinese name).
Lee remarked that the drones kept a safe distance while flying over restricted waters and airspace. Chinese Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) always fly in circles out of Taiwan's reach.
China usually denies that Taiwan is an independent country and denies it has sovereignty as a nation. Their naval vessels and military aircraft will avoid its ADIZ and never go beyond 3.7 miles, the Taiwan coast's distance.
When Lee was asked what the Taiwan Coast Guard will do if any drone got too close, he mentioned engagement rules.
He explained that reactions to Chinese drones would depend on the rules. Shooting at a target is always an option when it cannot be avoided.
The Pratas, which are located at the top of the controversial waters, have recently become tension points between Taiwan and Beijing.
Taiwan's island enclave is worried about the increased probing of its airspace by the Chinese air force close to the islands. Their Coast Guard has no heavy defenses in the Pratas or Dongsha; there is only minimal marine corps activity on these islands. It is relatively unpopulated with people, who are primarily scientists doing research.
Last October, a civilian plane was bringing in supplies meant for the Pratas, which was done weekly, but Hong Kong air traffic told the plane to turn back.
Since anti-government protests began in the Chinese-run capital, the Pratas, the closest Taiwan-controlled territory to Hong Kong, has added significance.
Taiwanese authorities intercepted one boat full of Hong Kong people; they were trying to get to the Republic of China, aka Taiwan.
Itu Aba, also known as Taiping Island, is Taiwan's other major South China Sea island and is part of the Spratly archipelago. Lee added that no Chinese UAVs had been seen there.
It is not only Taiwan that has claims in the SCS. Countries like Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam have claims but not as belligerent as China.
An American Aegis missile destroyer, the USS John S. McCain, passed through the Taiwan Strait last Wednesday, doing freedom of navigation operations (FONOPS) to demonstrate the US intention to continue its allies' support like Taiwan. More than Chinese drones, Chine sent more fighters and even a battlegroup with one of their carriers to make a point in Taiwan's vicinity.