Over the past few months, Chinese drones have entered Taiwanese airspace rather frequently. The Chinese social media is flooded with recordings of citizens flying their drones close to the Kinmen Islands, proving that not all of them are military drones. This has created a situation that analysts are calling ‘deniable harassment’. While China continues to dismiss the incursions as ‘no big thing,’ reiterating its claim to the island nation, Taiwan has chosen to adopt a harsher stance toward them.
In an interview with CNN, Paul Huang, a research fellow at the Taiwanese Public Opinion Foundation, a government think tank in China, expressed his opinion that most drones are actually piloted by civilians. ‘It’s unlikely that any military would use its drones in that manner, flying that near to a Taiwanese military checkpoint and drawing their attention. I honestly don’t see why the (People’s Liberation Army) would ever consider trying something like that’,says Huang.
When Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the US House, visited Taiwan and pledged US support, tensions between the two nations erupted once more. Since then, there have been more military exercises, and Taiwan’s president, Tsai Ing-wen, has referred to China’s use of drones as ‘gray-zone’ warfare.
However, the proliferation of civilian drones has made life challenging for the Taiwanese troops. Given their uniform architecture, drones can be challenging to distinguish between military and civilian control. They must therefore expend a lot of money in order to locate and eliminate the majority of them. On the other side, Taiwanese experts think that this is just another strategy used by China to repeatedly annoy the military close to the border and claim victory in a so-called ‘propaganda war’.