Taiwan shooting down drone near China was 'appropriate', premier says

The incident came after Taiwan had repeatedly complained of harassment by Chinese drones flying close to the Kinmen islands. PHOTO: AFP

TAIPEI (REUTERS) - Taiwan's shooting down of a drone off the Chinese coast that buzzed a Taiwanese-controlled island was the most "appropriate" thing to do after repeated warnings, and China should exercise restraint, Taiwan Premier Su Tseng-chang said on Friday.

Taiwan's military for the first time shot down an unidentified civilian drone that entered its airspace near an islet that sits next door to China's Xiamen city on Thursday, after the government vowed to take tough measures to deal with an increase in such intrusions.

The incident came after Taiwan had repeatedly complained of harassment by drones coming from China and flying right up close to the Kinmen islands.

Speaking to reporters, Mr Su said Taiwan had repeatedly issued warnings and "asked them not to encroach on our doorstep".

"They repeatedly ignored our warnings to leave and we had no choice but to exercise self-defence and shoot. This is the most appropriate reaction after repeated restraint and warnings."

The drone was shot down after entering restricted air space near the tiny Lion islet, and crashed into the sea, according to Taiwan’s military.

Chinese forces have been exercising near Taiwan since early last month, following the visit to Taipei of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, which infuriated Beijing.

China views democratically-governed Taiwan as its own territory, despite the strong objections of the government in Taipei.

At least two videos of recent drone trips have circulated widely on Chinese social media, in one of which Taiwanese soldiers were seen throwing stones at the craft.

Mr Su said these videos were made for China's "propaganda at home", adding to the anger of Taiwan's people.

China’s Foreign Ministry on Friday said Taiwan’s ruling party was attempting to hype tensions after the drone was shot down.

“The Democratic Progressive Party’s attempt to hype-up tensions does not mean anything,” spokesperson Zhao Lijian said at a regular briefing, in response to a question about the shooting of the drone.

On Monday, the ministry dismissed Taiwan's complaints about drones as nothing "to make a fuss about".

Taiwan has controlled Kinmen, which at its closest point is a few hundred metres from Chinese territory, since the defeated Republic of China government fled to Taipei after losing a civil war to Mao Zedong's communists in 1949.

During the height of the Cold War, China regularly shelled Kinmen and other Taiwanese-held islands along the Chinese coast, but they are now tourist destinations. 

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