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After incident, Chinese boats patrol waters near Taiwan-held Kinmen

02/19/2024 05:24 PM
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Chinese Coast Guard vessels. China News Service file photo for illustrative purpose only
Chinese Coast Guard vessels. China News Service file photo for illustrative purpose only

Taipei, Feb. 19 (CNA) Several Chinese coastal patrol boats were operating Monday morning in waters off the coast of the Taiwan-held Kinmen Islands, according to ship tracking information posted on the China Ports website.

The vessels belonging to the China Coast Guard (CCG) were shown on the Chinese website to be navigating in waters to the east, southeast and south of the main island of Kinmen, with the smallest one 15 meters long and the largest 92 meters long.

At 11:15 a.m., there were four ships on duty, ranging from 24 to 92 meters long.

China's deployment of the Coast Guard vessels came after a speedboat from nearby Fujian province capsized off the eastern coast of Kinmen on Feb. 14 as it was being chased by Taiwanese authorities, resulting in the deaths of two of the four people on board.

Taiwan's Coast Guard went after the speedboat because it had entered what Taiwan delineated as "prohibited" and "restricted" waters around Kinmen and refused to be boarded by Taiwanese authorities.

CNA graphic showing the locations of four Chinese Coast Guard vessels (red arrows) near Kinmen as of 11:15 a.m. Monday. Sources: Mainland Affairs Council, Ministry of National Defense, Chinaports Shiptracker
CNA graphic showing the locations of four Chinese Coast Guard vessels (red arrows) near Kinmen as of 11:15 a.m. Monday. Sources: Mainland Affairs Council, Ministry of National Defense, Chinaports Shiptracker

In the wake of the fatal incident, CCG spokesperson Gan Yu (甘羽) said Sunday that the Fujian Coast Guard Bureau would enhance maritime law enforcement and carry out routine patrols in waters in the vicinity of Xiamen and Kinmen.

The main island of Kinmen lies just off the Chinese coast, less than 10 kilometers to the south of Xiamen.

Gan said the move was being made to "safeguard order in the pertinent maritime regions and guarantee the safety of fishing crews' lives and property."

In a separate statement released Sunday, the Taiwan Affairs Office of China's State Council expressed support for the CCG operation.

Source: https://www.chinaports.com/shiptracker/
Source: https://www.chinaports.com/shiptracker/

On Saturday, the Taiwan Affairs Office said "fishermen on both sides of the Taiwan Strait have been operating in traditional fishing areas around Xiamen and Kinmen since ancient times," and it rejected the existence of "prohibited" or "restricted" waters as defined by Taiwan.

It also urged Taiwan to release the speedboat and two surviving passengers who were taken into custody.

The Mainland Affairs Council, Taiwan's top government agency in charge of cross-Taiwan Strait affairs, said Sunday that under Taiwanese law, Taiwan has the right to expel or detain vessels that trespass into its "restricted" or "prohibited" waters.

"This has been the case in the past, now and authorities will continue to enforce the law in the future," it said in a statement.

(By Tang Pei-chun and Evelyn Kao)

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