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Tensions between China and Taiwan have been escalating since Taiwan's presidential elections took place in January. China considers Taiwan part of its territory and has been carrying out military drills around the self-ruled island. In December, Taiwan started recording sightings of Chinese balloons, and on Friday, the country reported the highest number of balloons spotted so far, with eight observed at varying altitudes.
Taiwan's Defence Ministry said on Saturday it had recorded the highest number of Chinese balloons around the country since it started regularly releasing data on balloon sightings in December. Eight balloons were spotted on Friday, one day before the start of the Lunar New Year, at varying altitudes of 15,000 feet (4,572 meters) to 38,000 feet.
The increase in balloon sightings comes after Taiwan's presidential election, which was won by the ruling Democratic Progressive Party's Lai Ching-te, viewed as a separatist by Beijing. China had warned that if Lai won, it would bring war and decline to Taiwan. Lai, who will take office in May, has offered to open talks with China, but this has been rejected so far. The use of balloons for spying has become a global issue, with the United States shooting down a Chinese surveillance balloon last year.
Last February, the United States shot down what it said was a Chinese surveillance balloon, making China's potential use of balloons for spying became a global issue. China maintains the balloon was a civilian craft that accidentally drifted astray.