China drones seen over Taiwan-controlled islands

Authorities in Taiwan are calling for continued monitoring of Chinese drones over Taiwan-controlled islands in the South China Sea, saying that they cannot rule out the possibility of spying activities by the drones.

In a report to Taiwan's parliament on Thursday, Coast Guard Administration officials said Chinese unmanned aerial vehicles had come to fly over the Pratas Islands in the South China Sea recently.

They said they cannot rule out the possibility of the drones conducting surveillance.

The officials did not say when the drones began appearing or how often they had flown over the islands. But sources familiar with the matter said drones had started to be spotted around last autumn at the latest.

The officials also said boosting Taiwan's ties with the United States would draw reactions from China, and China may exert pressure on Taiwan's main island or remote islands, and use its militia, Coast Guard and military to cause skirmishes. They stressed the need to keep watching the drone activities in order to be able to respond immediately.

Taiwan's defense ministry said Chinese patrol aircraft have repeatedly entered Taiwan's air defense identification zone, flying across a supply route between Taiwan's main island and the Pratas Islands.

Personnel of the Coast Guard Administration are stationed on the Pratas Islands.