China Deploys Balloons to Influence Election

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Taiwan is reporting increased Chinese balloon activity over its territory. This coincides with its upcoming election, which could be a sign

Mainland Communist China considers Taiwan a rebel province that it wants to bring back under its control. Taiwan, officially known as the Republic of China, still maintains that it is the legitimate government of all China. Reuters reports:

Taiwan’s defence ministry accused China on Saturday of threatening aviation safety and waging psychological warfare on the island’s people with a recent spate of balloons spotted near or over the island, days before key Taiwanese elections.

The potential for China to use balloons for spying became a global issue in 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.

The question of Taiwanese independence is huge, as its declaration could lead many states to recognize it along China. Such a declaration by Taiwan would no doubt lead to a Chinese invasion. The Washington Post continues:

The purpose of the balloons is unclear, and a Chinese state media outlet has accused Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party and Taiwanese and American media of hyping what it says are harmless weather balloons. The balloon incidents come ahead of a Jan. 13 presidential election in Taiwan in which the island’s relations with China are a major issue.

Taiwan’s Defense Ministry has reported several instances of Chinese balloons flying near or over the island in the past month. It said Saturday that two balloons had been detected over the Taiwan Strait on Friday, one 33 nautical miles and the other 51 nautical miles off the island’s northwest coast.

China has long attempted to sway Taiwanese opinion towards a “peaceful reunification” with the promise of Taiwanese autonomy in its domestic affairs in exchange for sovereignty. China’s crackdown on Hong Kong’s liberties has largely eroded the move towards Taiwan’s closer cooperation with Beijing.

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