Taiwan’s military said Thursday that it had shot down an unidentified civilian drone that flew over a tiny islet in Kinmen County, a Taiwanese-controlled archipelago off the southeastern coast of mainland China.
The incident took place near the Shiyu islet, which is only about 2.5 miles away from the Chinese mainland city of Xiamen. The drone entered restricted waters around Shiyu and was shot down after it ignored warnings.
The incident marks the first time Taiwan’s military shot down a drone over territory controlled by Taipei. Earlier in the week, Taiwanese forces fired warning shots at another drone over the Kinmen islands, also known as the Quemoy islands.
Taiwan didn’t identify the drone it shot down as Chinese but said it flew from the direction of Xiamen. Since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) visited Taipei at the beginning of August, Taiwan has been detecting drones near its territory in Kinmen County regularly.
The downing of the drone came after Taiwan’s military warned that it would fire on drones that entered its airspace. On Wednesday, Taiwan’s military issued another warning, saying it would launch “counterattacks” if Chinese military ships or planes enter the territorial waters or airspace around Taiwan, which extend 12 nautical miles from the island’s coast.
The drone incident highlights the danger of the current tensions, which show no sign of waning as US delegations continue to make trips to Taipei and the Chinese military is keeping the pressure on Taiwan.
The Kinmen islands were shelled by China during both armed conflicts between the mainland and Taiwanese forces in the 1950s, known as the first and second Taiwan Strait crises. The US military intervened in both instances, and, in 1958, during the second Taiwan Strait crisis, there was a serious push by military planners to get the White House to use nuclear weapons against China.