"Missile flyover Tawain airpsace, be aware."

Strange Skies

During the runup to important elections in Taiwan, the island nation sent out its first ever air raid for a Chinese satellite flying over its airspace, making residents nervous and prompting politicians to point fingers, according to the Reuters.

The Taiwanese government sent mass texts labeled "air raid alert" to the public's cellphones on Tuesday. In English, the message read: "Missile flyover Tawain airpsace, be aware," while the message in Chinese described it as a "satellite launch by China."

These messages were sent out as China rocket launched a science satellite called the Einstein Probe, which carries specialized telescopes meant to investigate cosmic phenomena such as black holes and light from supernova events, according to Chinese state media outlet Xinhua.

The satellite lifted off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in the Sichuan Province of China, Xinhua reports.

Political Rumbles

Taiwanese officials said the satellite was not a simple benign science launch, but was meant to remind the Taiwanese of China's power, Reuters reports. The communist government in China has long claimed Taiwan as part of its territory though residents have governed themselves since 1949 — ever since the end of the Chinese Civil War that pitted forces loyal to General Chiang Kai-shek against the prevailing communists led by Mao Zedong.

But with the launch of the satellite coming just before Taiwan's presidential elections this Saturday, the main opposition party Kuomintang Party (KMT) criticized the incumbent Democratic Progressive Party for using the air raid warning as a political ploy, the BBC reports.

"This is the first time I heard that launching a satellite can trigger such an alert," said KMT chairman Eric Chu. "Everyone was possibly shocked, thinking it was a missile, but it turned out to be a satellite... So I think the Ministry of National Defense is trying to mislead the public by issuing such an alert."

Regardless of the motivations behind the air raid warning, Taiwan has long accused China of violating its airspace via fighter jets, drones and other craft.

More on satellites: Videos Show Chinese Rocket Parts Raining Down, Exploding

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