Taiwan shoots down drone for first time off Chinese coast

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The armed forces of Taiwan shot down for the first time an unidentified civilian drone that entered their airspace near an island off the Chinese coast on Thursday, after the government vowed to take tough new measures to deal with the rise in such intrusions.

Beijing, which claims Taiwan as its own against strong objections from the Taipei government, has held military exercises around the island since early last month in reaction to a visit to Taipei by US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

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The Taiwan government has said it will not provoke or escalate tensions, but has been particularly irritated recently by repeated cases of Chinese drones buzzing around Taiwan-controlled islands off China’s coast.

The defense command of Kinmen, a group of Taiwan-controlled islands opposite the Chinese cities of Xiamen and Quanzhou, said in a statement released by the Taiwan Ministry of Defense that the drone entered restricted airspace over Lion Island shortly after the noon.

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Troops on the islet tried to warn him but to no avail, so they shot him down, with the remains falling into the sea, he added.

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

Speaking to the military on Thursday, Tsai said China continues to use drone raids and other “gray zone” tactics to try to intimidate Taiwan, her office said in a statement.

Tsai again emphasized that Taiwan would not provoke disputes, but that does not mean that it would not take countermeasures, the statement added.

“She also ordered the Ministry of National Defense to take the necessary and strong countermeasures in a timely manner to defend national security,” he said.

“Let the military guard the country without fear and with solid trust.”

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

During the height of the Cold War, China regularly bombed Kinmen and other Taiwanese islands along the Chinese coast, but they are now tourist destinations.

(Editing: Shri Navaratnam and Robert Birsel)

Source: CNN Brasil

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