Taiwan does not consider China satellite launch election interference


TAIPEI: Taiwan’s presidential office said it did not consider the launch of a Chinese satellite whose rocket flew over southern Taiwan an attempt at election interference ahead of presidential and parliamentary elections on Saturday (Jan 13).

On Tuesday, the government issued a mistaken air raid alert after the Chinese rocket carrying a science satellite flew over southern Taiwan at an altitude of more than 500km. The defence ministry later apologised for the wrong wording in English which used the word “missile”.

Taiwan’s presidential office, responding to questions on whether it considered the satellite launch election interference, said it did not think there was a political motive.

“After the national security team has analysed the overall relevant information and taken into account the evaluation of the information of various international allies, political attempts can be ruled out,” it said in a statement issued shortly before midnight on Tuesday.

While the rocket launch sparked a false alarm, Taiwan, which China views as its territory over the strong objections of the government in Taipei, has repeatedly accused Beijing of trying to interfere in the vote, whether via military, political, economic or other means. China has labelled those allegations “dirty tricks”.

Taiwan’s foreign minister was speaking to foreign reporters when the shrill alert sounded on phones in the room using the words “satellite launch by China” in Chinese and “missile” in English.

He had described the launch as part of a pattern of Chinese harassment like the recent cases of Chinese balloons spotted over the island.

Taiwan’s largest opposition party, the Kuomintang (KMT), slammed the government on Tuesday, saying the alert issued over the satellite launch “should not become an election tool”.

“The KMT supports the use of national-level warnings to inform people, but the standard should be whether it causes harm to Taiwan,” it said in a statement.

“Otherwise, if warnings are sent arbitrarily, it will be hard for people not to think it is election manipulation.”



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