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China satellite launch triggers air raid alert in Taiwan ahead of election

Taiwan issued an islandwide air raid alert after a Chinese satellite flew over its southern airspace days before a crucial presidential election.

Mobile phone users across the self-ruled island received a message warning them to "be aware for your safety".

The "presidential alert" underlined jitters ahead of pivotal presidential and legislative elections on Saturday.

China has long claimed Taiwan as part of its own territory and has been accused of interfering in the vote.

The self-governing island of 23 million people, is a key flashpoint in the tussle between China and the US for supremacy in Asia. Analysts say the elections will shape the trajectory of ties between Beijing and Washington.

The satellite was launched off the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre in China's Sichuan province at 15:03 local time, Taiwan's defence ministry said. At about the same time as the alert, China's CCTV announced that a satellite named Einstein Probe had been launched with "complete success".

Taiwan's foreign minister Joseph Wu said the launch of a satellite over Taiwanese airspace so close to the election is a "greyzone" activity, Reuters news agency reported.

"When a rocket is openly flying in our sky, some of their tubes or debris will fall in this region," said Mr Wu, who was at a news conference when the alert was sent.

"That's the reason why our national alert centre will issue this kind of alert. It has happened before."

Taiwan said its defence ministry was tracking the trajectory of the satellite to "appropriately alert and respond" to the situation. The satellite was at high altitude when it crossed Taiwan's airspace, the ministry said.

Taiwanese media say this is the first time its government has flashed an islandwide alert of this