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Taiwan PM says downing drone near China was ‘appropriate’

Taiwan’s military shoots down its first unidentified civilian drone in its airspace as weeks of tension with China continue.

Taiwan Prime Minister Su Tsing-chang said Taiwan’s decision to shoot down a drone off the Chinese coast that flew over an island controlled by Taiwan was the “most appropriate” measure to take after repeated warnings.

On Thursday, the Taiwanese military shot down the first unidentified civilian drone that entered its airspace near the Kinmen Islands adjacent to the Chinese city of Xiamen.

The drone was shot down after entering restricted airspace near the tiny Shiyu (lion) island, and crashed into the sea, according to the Taiwan military.

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Speaking to reporters on Friday, Su said Taiwan had issued repeated warnings and “asked them not to trespass on our doorsteps.”

They repeatedly ignored our warnings to leave and we had no choice but to practice self-defense and shoot. This is the most appropriate reaction after restraint and repeated warnings.”

Su added that China should exercise restraint.

“We will never provoke, and we will do the most appropriate thing to protect our land and our people,” he said.

stress test

The Kinmen Defense Command said flares and warning shots were fired, but the drone maintained its position and was shot down on Thursday afternoon.

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Command described the drone as “for civilian use,” but did not say if it had been recovered or what weapon was used to bring it down.

A day earlier, Taiwan said it had warned against drones flying over three of the islands it occupies off the coast of the Chinese city of Xiamen.

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Taiwan’s military said nearly 450 strikes by Chinese military aircraft in the Taiwan Air Defense Identification Zone have taken place so far this year.

Tensions between Taipei and Beijing have increased since US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s controversial visit last month to self-governing Taiwan, to which China responded with more than a week of live-fire military exercises in waters around the island.

Kitsch Liao Yen-fan, a military and cyber affairs advisor for Taiwanese think tank Doublethink Lab, said the Chinese military appears to be trying to test Taiwan’s defenses with increased air strikes.

Such a test of defenses also establishes a “new normal” for Taiwan in terms of its response to China, Liao said.

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The downing of the drone came after the Taiwanese government promised measures to deal with an increase in such breaches.

President Tsai Ing-wen said on Tuesday she had ordered the military to take “strong countermeasures” against what she called Chinese provocations. Soon after, Taiwanese forces fired warning shots at a drone for the first time.

At least two videos of recent drone flights were widely circulated on Chinese social media, and in one of them, Taiwanese soldiers were seen throwing stones at the vehicle.

The prime minister, Su, said the videos were made for “Chinese propaganda at home”, further angering the people of Taiwan.

China’s Foreign Ministry on Monday dismissed Taiwan’s complaints about drones, calling them “no fuss”.

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China views democratically governed Taiwan as its own territory, despite strong objections from the government in Taipei.

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Taiwan has controlled the Kinmen Islands, at its closest point a few hundred meters from Chinese territory, since the defeated government of the Republic of China fled to Taipei after losing a civil war to Mao Zedong’s communist in 1949.

During the height of the Cold War, China regularly bombed Kinmen and other Taiwanese islands along the Chinese coast, and while they maintain a significant military presence, they are now also tourist destinations.

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