Chinese 'weather balloon' lands in Taiwan amid US spying accusations, defence officials say

Taiwan’s Defense Ministry says a Chinese weather balloon has landed on Tungyin, a part of Taiwan's Matsu island group off the coast of China’s Fujian province Credit: AP

A Chinese weather balloon has landed on a tiny island in Taiwan, according to its defence ministry.

It comes after four flying objects were shot down over the US, leading to accusations that China has been using the aircraft worldwide to spy on Washington and its allies.

The balloon ran aground on the islet Tungyin, which is part of the Matsu Islands, lying just off the coast of China’s Fujian province.

It is considered Taiwan's first line of defence should China make good on its threats to bring Taiwan under its control by force if necessary.

The balloon was carrying equipment registered to a state-owned electronics company in the northern China city of Taiyuan, with labels written in simplified mainland Chinese characters, according Taiwan's ministry’s statement on Thursday.

The Chinese balloon found over the US was destroyed on February 4. Credit: AP

China regularly sends military aircraft and warships into Taiwan air identification zone and across the middle line of the Taiwan Strait.

That has prompted Taiwan to boost military purchases from the US, expand domestic production of local planes, submarines and fighting ships, and extend compulsory military service for all men.

Washington is Taiwan's closest military and diplomatic ally, despite a lack of formal ties, which were cut in 1979.

Beijing protests strongly over all contacts between the island and the US, but its aggressive diplomacy has helped build strong bipartisan support for Taipei on Capitol Hill.

UK to conduct security review after US jets shoot down fourth flying object

As a spy balloon drifts across the US, what are they and what can they do?

On Thursday, President Joe Biden said the US is developing “sharper rules” to track, monitor and potentially shoot down unknown aerial objects, following three weeks of high-stakes drama sparked by the discovery of a suspected Chinese spy balloon transiting much of the country.

Biden has directed national security adviser Jake Sullivan to lead an “interagency team” to review US procedures after shooting down of the Chinese balloon, as well as three other objects.

It is now believed the objects were most likely “benign” launched by private companies or research institutions, the President of the US said.

While not expressing regret for downing the three still-unidentified objects, Biden said he hoped the new rules would help “distinguish between those that are likely to pose safety and security risks that necessitate action and those that do not.”

Taiyuan Wireless (Radio) First Factory Ltd were contacted by AP, but it did not respond.

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