(NewsReady.com) – The People’s Republic of China (PRC) has made no secret of its intention to bring Taiwan back into the fold. The communist regime has never recognized the island nation’s declaration of sovereignty. Tensions have escalated, and the PRC continues testing Taiwan’s defenses and capabilities. In a nod to modern tactics, China has begun using drones to surround the island, exerting constant pressure.
Since August 2022, the Chinese have employed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) as part of what Rand Corporation calls “gray zone tactics,” intimidating acts that skirt dangerously close to armed conflict, going beyond standard economic, diplomatic, military, or social channels to coerce cooperation. Following a month in which China flew jets and sailed warships progressively closer to the island, the Taiwanese Army shot down a “civilian” drone that entered the island’s airspace, according to The New York Times.
Taiwan will treat Chinese drone or jet incursions into its airspace as a "first strike," Taiwan's defence chief said, amid rising concerns over Beijing's strategy of flying unmanned surveillance craft around the island.#Taiwan #China #chinataiwan pic.twitter.com/SAGGlQpVzL
— That is China (@2022_Lockdown) May 6, 2023
A retired Taiwanese Air Force officer, Chang Yan-ting, explained the soldiers “had no choice but to shoot it down.” Despite warnings, the drone flew above a military installation and stayed longer than three minutes. “We gave it time to fly away,” he said, according to The New York Times.
While critics point out the downed UAV was a civilian model, Chieh Chung, a Taiwan National Policy Foundation analyst, warned not to “assume that a civilian drone has nothing to do with military purposes.”
China seemed to exercise a lull in drone and other activity during the Balikatan Exercise, a joint US and Phillippines military tactical maneuver held April 24 through 27 this year. However, since the war games, it has reportedly increased the number of UAVs it’s using to observe Taiwanese operations, sending up alarms about a potential impending invasion, according to The Times.
One way Taiwan is fighting back is by employing high-tech radar-jamming guns, according to TaiwanPlus News.
The island nation also plans to install 45 remote-controlled anti-drone systems. Yet, this is a new defensive reality for all militaries worldwide after Ukraine proved how effective UAVs could be for gathering intelligence or delivering strikes.
China is still sending jets across Taiwanese airspace, but it’s generally sending drones ahead first to probe Taiwan’s response. In an August 30, 2022 speech, Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen warned, “We will not provoke disputes, and we will exercise self-restraint, but it does not mean that we will not counter.”
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