A new threat from China faces Taiwan’s military: Trolls with drones

It appears like the young men in the video, which has gone viral on Chinese social media, have chosen a perfect day for a picnic, with the sun shining, beverages on the table, and music in the air.
It’s difficult to imagine they could be up to anything sinister because they are dressed casually in jeans and T-shirts, shorts, and sandals, and they are conversing amiably in Mandarin while hunched over a controller and screen. However, one of them suddenly screams, “I got a tank!
These males aren’t playing a video game, though. On a neighbouring Taiwan-controlled island, they are using drones to fly over a military installation.
The 15-second video is one of several that have lately surfaced on the Chinese social media platform Weibo and depict what seem to be drones of the civilian-grade mocking Taiwan’s military. Later, the military of the island verified that these unknown threats are in fact domestic Chinese drones.
In-depth drone footage of military facilities and troops on Taiwan’s remote Kinmen islands is shown in the movies. The videos, which feature a variety of emojis and soundtracks that range from dance music to ballads, appear to be intended to illustrate how unprepared Taiwan’s military is.


Four Taiwanese troops are shown in one video realizing they are being watched by a drone hovering above their guard station. Unprepared, they retaliate by hurling stones at the intrusive drone, which zooms in so closely that you can see individual soldiers’ faces.
On Chinese social media, video footage of these strange interactions has gone viral and is generating hundreds of comments that make fun of Taiwan’s military. The videos appear to reveal a startling weakness: Chinese drones have the capacity to photograph restricted military facilities in Taiwan at any time.

‘Gray zone’ warfare

According to analysts, the video that is being shown online and that shows military installations and personnel in great detail for all to see is at best embarrassing for Taiwan and at worst downright hazardous.
Drone invasions occur amid rising tensions following US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s August visit to Taiwan, a self-governing democracy with a population of about 24 million.
That trip infuriated China’s ruling Communist Party, which, despite never having had control over Taiwan, sees the island as part of its territory. In response, China’s Communist Party conducted unprecedented military exercises around the island, sent warplanes across the Taiwan Strait, and fired missiles over the main island.
The drone incursions, according to Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, represent the most recent increase in this pressure and a new front in China’s “gray-zone” military methods used to scare the island. Taiwan first fired down a drone on September 1 after warning it would use its right to self-defense.

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Although the video is startling, it is hard to pinpoint the precise perpetrator of the drone assaults.
When asked about civilian-grade drones flying over the Kinmen region, a representative for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs recently said: “Chinese drones flying over China’s land – what’s there to be astonished at?
The fact that China hasn’t blocked the drones from flying in its own strictly regulated airspace or taken the videos down from its usually heavily guarded internet only serves to raise concerns.
Since flying drones over domestic military installations is punishable by imprisonment, Beijing also doesn’t seem interested in attempting to hold individuals responsible for the footage accountable.

‘Deniable harassment’

According to foreign writer and long-time China observer Isabel Hilton, it was impossible to determine who was operating the drones, which is precisely why they were ideal for “deniable harassment.”
According to Hilton, the creator of China Dialogue, the devices look to be civilian models, but they “can be operated by anybody, even the military,” he added, speculating that “government agencies under the appearance of a popular movement” may be in charge.
Hilton compared the situation to what has been happening in the South China Sea, where China has been accused of creating a marine militia to enforce its territorial claims by inundating contested areas with a large number of vessels that are purportedly belonging to the fishing industry.
The militia, frequently referred to as China’s “Little Blue Men,” is reportedly financed and governed by the People’s Liberation Army, according to Western experts. When questioned, China denies knowledge of them and refers to them as a “so-called marine militia.”

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According to Hilton, China would like to prevail in both situations “without the military appearing to be involved.”
It doesn’t appear as though this is official policy, regardless of whether you’re employing fishing boats or civilian drones. It doesn’t have the same appearance of overt military harassment as a warplane incursion. Therefore, it is a debatable provocation.
In addition to serving reconnaissance functions, Hilton said the drones could have a psychological impact on the soldiers because they “find their faces very clearly put up on Chinese social media, where they are liable to be insulted and where people are liable to call for them to be killed.” Taiwan’s media have reported that such exposure could harm the soldiers’ mental health.
According to Hilton, “this is all highly demoralizing for Taiwanese, and it’s kept at a level that’s designed not to let Taiwan rest or forget the threat.”
It is intended to serve as a reminder to Taiwan that Chinese pressure is unavoidable and that China will eventually seize power. That is the goal.


By: Miss Cherry May Timbol – Independent Reporter

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