In a recent incident causing unease, Taiwan’s Defense Ministry mistakenly translated an alert, erroneously informing citizens of a missile launch by China instead of a satellite.
The mix-up comes just days before Taiwan’s crucial presidential and parliamentary elections, scheduled for Saturday.
Defense Ministry clarifies missile alert mix-up
These elections are seen as pivotal, with China framing them as a choice between war and peace.
The erroneous alert, distributed to residents’ mobile phones, indicated a missile flyover in the English version, while the actual event was a satellite launch.
The Defense Ministry promptly apologized for the mistranslation and clarified that the event was a rocket launch carrying a satellite, not a missile.
False alert amidst Chinese satellite launch over Taiwan
The ministry confirmed that the Chinese rocket traversed over southern Taiwan at a high altitude.
Chinese state media reported the successful launch of the ‘Einstein’ satellite aboard a Long March 2C rocket from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan, southwestern China. CCTV confirmed that the satellite successfully entered orbit.
The false alert coincidentally occurred during an international news conference by Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu.
Taiwanese officials clarify false alarm, stress peace amidst tensions
Wu quickly rectified the situation, assuring journalists it was a satellite launch and not a cause for alarm.
“We need to stay responsible; we need to stay moderate in order to prevent (a) conflict from happening between Taiwan and China,” he stated, emphasizing the importance of maintaining peace and stability.
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, speaking from the southern city of Kaohsiung, also urged the public not to worry.
Local media reported her reassurances amidst a tense political climate.
Beijing’s heightened military activity near Taiwan raises regional tensions
The incident occurred against the backdrop of Beijing’s intensified military activities around Taiwan, which it considers a renegade province.
Recent months have seen almost daily incursions by Chinese military vessels and aircraft near the island, home to 23 million people.
There have also been reports of surveillance balloons flown by Beijing near Taiwan, raising concerns about espionage.
China’s political stance ahead of Taiwan’s elections
In the context of the upcoming elections, China has openly expressed its opposition to the leading presidential candidate, current Vice President William Lai of the Democratic Progressive Party.
Beijing has labeled Lai as “a destroyer of peace” and a separatist, showing a clear preference for the Kuomintang, or Nationalist Party, whose candidate is Hou Yu-ih. Additionally, a third candidate, Ko Wen-je from the smaller Taiwan People’s Party, is also contesting in the election.
Taiwan missile alert mishap’s implications for upcoming elections
The mix-up with the missile alert and the subsequent clarifications by Taiwanese officials highlight the heightened tensions and the delicate balance of peace in the region.
The outcome of the upcoming elections, set against the backdrop of these complex geopolitical dynamics, is poised to significantly influence Taiwan’s future relations with China.