On Tuesday, Taiwan’s Defense Ministry issued an alert regarding China’s launch of a satellite, urging caution just days before the island’s presidential and parliamentary elections. The alert, sent to residents’ mobile phones in both English and Chinese, initially stated there was a missile flyover. The Defense Ministry later apologized for the English translation error, clarifying that China had launched a rocket carrying a satellite, not a missile. The Chinese rocket reportedly flew over southern Taiwan at high altitude.
China, via state media, announced the successful launch of a satellite named Einstein with a Long March 2C rocket from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan province. Despite the clarification, Taiwan’s Defense Ministry alert raised concerns amid the ongoing tension between Taiwan and China. The presidential and parliamentary elections in Taiwan, scheduled for Saturday, have been described by China as a choice between war and peace.
During an international news conference, Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu reassured journalists that it was a satellite launch and urged moderation to prevent conflict between Taiwan and China. Despite the alert, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, who was in the southern city of Kaohsiung, urged the public not to worry.
Beijing considers Taiwan a renegade province that must come under its control and has heightened military harassment in recent months, with frequent military vessels and aircraft near the island. China’s actions include flying balloons near Taiwan, suspected to be used for surveillance, despite protests from Taiwan. The presidential election in Taiwan features Vice President William Lai of the Democratic Progressive Party, who has been criticized by Beijing as a “destroyer of peace.” China favors the more China-friendly Kuomintang, or Nationalist Party, whose candidate is Hou Yu-ih. Another candidate, Ko Wen-je, from the smaller Taiwan People’s Party, is also running in Saturday’s election.