Taiwan has noticed Chinese language drones circling the Taipei-controlled Pratas Islands within the South China Sea and should shoot them down in the event that they stray too shut, a authorities minister mentioned on Wednesday, a transfer that might dramatically enhance tensions with Beijing.
Talking at parliament, Lee Chung-wei, who heads the Ocean Affairs Council underneath whose purview the Coast Guard falls, mentioned that that they had lately noticed Chinese language drones circling the Pratas, although they haven’t flown over the islands.
“They’ve by no means entered our restricted waters and airspace, they’ve simply flown round them at a sure distance,” Lee mentioned.
Whereas China recognises no Taiwanese claims of sovereignty, its plane and ships usually keep outdoors Taiwan’s restricted zone, which extends 6 km from its coast.
Requested how the Coast Guard would react if a Chinese language drone entered that restricted zone, Lee mentioned that they had guidelines of engagement.
“After it enters it will likely be dealt with underneath the principles. If we have to open fireplace, we open fireplace.”
The Pratas lie on the prime finish of the disputed waterway, and have turn into a comparatively new supply of intrigue between Chinese language-claimed Taiwan and Beijing.
In latest months Taiwan has complained of repeated Chinese language air pressure exercise close to the islands, which Taiwan’s Coast Guard solely calmly defends although there are periodic deployments of marines. There isn’t any everlasting civilian inhabitants, solely occasional visiting scientists.
In October, Hong Kong air site visitors controllers warned off a Taiwanese civilian flight flying to the Pratas on a routine weekly provide run, forcing it to show again.
The Pratas, the closest Taiwan-controlled territory to Hong Kong, have additionally taken on additional significance since anti-government protests started within the Chinese language-run metropolis.
Taiwan has intercepted no less than one boat near the Pratas carrying individuals fleeing from Hong Kong attempting to make their approach to Taiwan.
Taiwan’s different predominant South China Sea island is Itu Aba, also referred to as Taiping Island, which is a part of the Spratly archipelago.
Lee mentioned they haven’t noticed Chinese language drones there.
Aside from China and Taiwan, Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam even have competing claims for islands and options within the South China Sea.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV employees and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)