• Just days after warning against Chinese intrusion, Taiwan shot down civilian drone
  • Taiwan also warned of counterattack in case PLA aircraft and warships intrude
  • Taiwanese forces have started firing live ammunition to scare away Chinese drones
  • Taiwan Premier Su Tseng-chang: drone's downing an "appropriate" response

In the first such incident, Taiwan on Thursday shot down a civilian drone over the waters of Lion Islet island in the Kinmen area that lies just a few kilometers from mainland China. The action by Taiwanese forces comes after Taipei warned it would counterattack if China intrudes into the country's territorial waters and is expected to ratchet up tensions across the strait.

Taiwan Premier Su Tseng-chang on Friday called the response "appropriate" and said China should exercise restraint.

The drone was spotted shortly after midday above the waters of Lion Islet, a small island in the Kinmen County grouping that is controlled by Taiwan and lies about 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) from the shore of Xiamen, China. The drone was shot down after warning flares failed to drive it away, CNN reported.

"This is the most appropriate reaction after repeated restraint and warnings," Su said.

President Tsai Ing-wen had on Tuesday warned that Taiwan will hit back against Chinese provocations.

"We restrain ourselves, but that doesn't mean we won't hit back," Tsai said, adding that she has ordered the military to take "strong and necessary countermeasures" to defend its airspace and security when appropriate.

Echoing the president's warning, Taiwan's deputy chief of the general staff for operations and planning, Maj. Gen. Lin Wen-Huang, told media that the national army will exercise right to self-defense and counter-attack without exception at aircraft and ships that entered into Taiwan's sea and air territory of 12 nautical miles.

"For PLA aircraft and warships that entered our territorial sea and airspace within 12 nautical miles, our armed forces will exercise the right to self-defense and counterattack," Gen. Lin said at a news briefing in Taipei on Wednesday.

In the past weeks, there have been several reports of unidentified drones flying into Taiwanese territory. Taiwanese forces started firing live ammunition to scare away the drones after Tsai issued the warning.

On Wednesday Taiwanese troops fired on three Chinese drones that intruded over three different islands in Kinmen County, a day after they fired warning shots at Chinese drones over Dadan, Erdan and Shi Islet islands. According to reports, last month alone, the Taiwanese military has documented 23 sightings of Chinese drones flying over its airspace in Kinmen County.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian retorted to reporters who asked him about the drones: "Chinese drones flying over China's territory — what's there to be surprised at?"

Tensions between Taiwan and mainland China have been high since a visit by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taipei in August. China responded by ordering several days of military drills around the island democracy. China claims Taiwan, a self-governing democracy, to be part of its territory and has long vowed to "reunify" the island with the Chinese mainland, by force if necessary.

China drones
An unmanned drone aircraft is being tested during a campaign for disaster prevention and reduction in Beijing, May 12, 2015. Getty Images/AFP/STR