The Ministry of National Defense of Taiwan announced on Sunday that troops are are to begin shooting down intruding Chinese drones if they do not respond to and comply with warnings, after more footage of Chinese drones loitering over Taiwanese positions surfaced in the past few days, with no apparent response by the Taiwanese troops.
The footage that surfaced in the past few days showed Chinese drones of unknown affiliation hovering over Kinmen island, a Taiwanese archipelago adjacent to the Chinese city of Fujian, the offending drone took close-up video of two soldiers in one such videos, one of whom threw rocks at the drone. On the 27 August, the Chinese drone flew extremely close to a Taiwanese outpost on the Kinmen islands, hovering and recording the reactions by the troops.
So far, the standard response by Taiwanese troops has been to launch flare rounds at the harassing drones and increasing alertness. The current announcement states that, in response to future drone intrusions, Taiwanese troops will continue to issue warnings such as whistles, radio warnings, and flare rounds, but in addition, if the drones fail to comply, it will be fired upon and shot down.
The employment of unofficial, greyzone assets, have long been a part of China’s toolbox for advancing their interests. Construction of artificial islands in the South China Sea and the stationing of troops, as well as the establishment of an official county, have consolidated Chinese claims on the trade artery without a single shot fired. The arrest of Canadian nationals Micheal Spavor and Micheal Korvig in the wake of Meng Wanzhou, an executive for Chinese technological giant Huawei who was detained in fraud charges, similarly complicated Canadian strategic calculus and won her return after two years.
By condoning the operations of the drone and the spread of its footage, regardless of if the flight was officially sanctioned, China can push its position on the rightful ownership of the Kinmen islands without crossing the threshold into sparking a military conflict. A tactic which, if not interrupted, has benefited them in the past.