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New high set for Chinese balloon crossings of Strait median line

02/10/2024 06:12 PM
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Taipei, Feb. 10 (CNA) Eight Chinese balloons were detected crossing the median line of the Taiwan Strait on Friday, the most in a single day to date, with two of them later flying over Taiwan, the Ministry of National Defense (MND) said Saturday.

Five of the eight balloons crossed the median line at points ranging from 68 nautical miles northwest of Keelung to 92 nautical miles west of the port city, while two crossed the line 55-65 nautical miles from Taichung and crossed the line closer to southern Taiwan.

They flew at altitudes ranging from 15,000 feet to 38,000 feet, according to the MND.

The fourth balloon, which made its way across the median line at 8 a.m., flew over central Taiwan before disappearing above the island at 9:52 a.m., according to an MND chart of the balloons' paths.

The sixth balloon, which crossed the median line at 10:41 a.m., flew over the northern part of Taiwan before disappearing at 12:32 p.m. above waters to the east of Taiwan, the MND said.

Taiwan's military did not make any comment on the type of balloons involved nor did it speculate on why Beijing sent eight balloons across the median line in a single day.

Another two military aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles also crossed Taiwan's median line between 6 a.m. Friday and 6 a.m. Saturday, the MND said.

The median line in the Taiwan Strait served for many years as a tacit border between the two sides, but China's military has more freely sent aircraft, drones, and balloons across it over the past 18 months, since former United States House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan in August 2022.

(By Wang Cheng-chung and James Lo)

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