Military exercise in Taiwan: The long-simmering conflict between the island state and China could escalate. (archive image)
Image: EPA

Taipei reports that five of the balloons flew directly over the island. It is unusual for several balloons to appear at the same time. China has repeatedly claimed that it only sends individual balloons to Taiwan for meteorological purposes.

TTaiwan has detected eight Chinese balloons for the second day in a row, according to the Defense Ministry. The ministry announced on Sunday that five of them also flew over the island on Saturday. The first balloon was seen in the morning and the last in the afternoon. Taiwan had already reported the sighting of eight balloons on Friday. The purpose is unclear. The number is relatively high. Balloons had occasionally flown over the unofficial border. China rejected Taiwan's complaints in December that the balloons posed a threat to airspace and were part of psychological warfare. The balloons were used for meteorological purposes. This should not be overstated for political purposes. The Chinese Defense Ministry did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Sunday. The New Year celebrations are currently taking place in both China and Taiwan.

Relations between Taiwan and China are strained because the People's Republic views democratically ruled Taiwan as a breakaway province. In January, the previous vice president, Lai Ching-te, was elected as the new president despite threats from China. He advocates for Taiwan's independence.