TAIPEI (REUTERS) – Taiwan’s defence ministry said on Thursday (Aug 4) that unidentified aircraft, probably drones, had flown on Wednesday night above the area of its Kinmen islands, which are just off the southeastern coast of China, and that it had fired flares to drive them away.

Taiwan has been on alert as China conducts a series of military exercises in response to a visit to the island this week by US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

After her departure on Wednesday, Taiwan’s defence ministry announced that 27 Chinese warplanes had entered the island’s air defence identification zone (ADIZ). Over the last two years, Beijing has ramped up military incursions into Taiwan’s ADIZ – which is not the same as the island’s territorial airspace, but includes a far greater area.

The ministry published a map that showed 16 Su-30s and 6 J-11s had crossed the so-called “median line” of the Taiwan Strait – an unofficial boundary in the narrow waterway, which separates the island from the mainland and straddles vital shipping lanes.