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After Dustup With Taiwan, China Coast Guard Boosts Presence off Kinmen

Taiwan Coast Guard Administration personnel inspect the capsized Chinese speedboat (CGA handout)
Taiwan Coast Guard Administration personnel inspect the capsized Chinese speedboat, Feb. 14 (CGA handout)

Published Feb 18, 2024 7:24 PM by The Maritime Executive

After a deadly run-in between a Chinese speedboat and Taiwanese coast guard responders in waters off Kinmen last week, China plans to dispatch a force to carry out patrols off the coast of the Taiwan-controlled outlying island. 

Kinmen is located just a few miles from mainland China, and Taiwanese authorities have complained of intruding Chinese vessels for years. According to Taipei,  Chinese fishermen and sand dredgers regularly cross the line into Taiwan's waters off Kinmen. This is one of many sticking points in maritime relations between Taiwan and mainland China; Beijing does not recognize the Taipei government, and insists that it has sovereignty over all Taiwanese territory. 

The latest dustup off Kinmen occurred last Wednesday when two Chinese nationals were killed during a chase in waters off Beiding Islet. The run-in began when a speedboat with four people aboard intruded into Taiwanese maritime territory, and the Taiwanese Coast Guard Administration (CGA) gave chase. The suspect boat capsized while maneuvering to escape, and two of the occupants were killed. The two survivors were brought ashore for treatment at Kinmen Hospital, and they remain in Taiwanese custody. 

In a brief statement Sunday, the China Coast Guard said that it will be stepping up its law enforcement presence around Kinmen in order to "further maintain the order of operations in the relevant waters and safeguard the safety of fishermen's lives and property."

"Fishermen on both sides of the Taiwan Strait have been operating in traditional fishing grounds in the Xiamen-Kinmen maritime area since ancient times, and there is no such thing as 'prohibited or restricted waters'," the Chinese Communist Party's Taiwan Affairs Office suggested on Saturday. 

The office added that if the two surviving fishermen are not released, "China reserves the right to take further measures, and Taiwan will bear all consequences."