Chinese spy ship spotted near Taiwan during missile tests: source

08/20/2020 05:55 PM
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File photo of a missile test in July provided by the Ministry of National Defense
File photo of a missile test in July provided by the Ministry of National Defense

Taipei, Aug. 20 (CNA) A Chinese reconnaissance vessel was seen recently off the east coast of Taiwan, during a series of live-fire missile tests conducted by the Taiwan military's top research institute, a military source said Thursday.

The ship was detected off eastern Hualien County, the anonymous source told CNA.

The military believes that the ship was collecting intelligence on the missiles being tested off the coast of Pingtung County by the National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology (NCIST), the source added.

The military, however, could not deploy a warship to investigate the Chinese vessel, as it remained 24 nautical miles off Taiwan's coastline, meaning that it was not operating inside the nation's territorial waters, the source said.

The military nevertheless monitored the vessel remotely until it moved further away from Taiwan and out of range of military monitoring, according to the source.

Asked to comment, Taiwan's military spokesman, Shih Shun-wen (史順文), told CNA that the nation's armed forces "have a full grasp of the situation." He did not elaborate.

The appearance of the ship came after the NCIST earlier warned local fishing boats not to operate in waters off the coasts of Pingtung County and outlying Orchid and Green islands, as well as Yilan and Hualien counties, between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. on Aug. 13, 14, 17 and 18 as it would be conducting live-ammunition firing tests.

The NCIST did not disclose what kind of weapon system was being tested.

A military source told CNA on Aug. 14 that the NCIST could be testing the indigenous Tien Kung III anti-tactical ballistic missile or the Yun Feng supersonic land attack cruise missile, which reportedly has a range of 1,200 kilometers.

(By Lu Tai-cheng and Joseph Yeh)

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