China Heightens Patrols Near Taiwan-Controlled Kinmen Isles in Apparent Bid to Undermine Taipei’s Jurisdiction

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
China Heightens Patrols Near Taiwan-Controlled Kinmen Isles in Apparent Bid to Undermine Taipei’s Jurisdiction

BEIJING/TAIPEI — The China Coast Guard is intensifying its patrols near the Kinmen group of remote islands controlled by Taiwan.

Since the capsizing of a Chinese fishing boat on Feb. 14, the China Coast Guard has been pressuring Taiwan ships near the Kinmen islands, through such actions as boarding them for inspections.

China’s patrols appear to be aimed at undermining Taiwan’s jurisdictional authority over the Kinmen islands.

On Sunday, the China Coast Guard announced that a formation of its vessels had conducted patrols near the Kinmen islands. It said the formation escorted Chinese fishermen and issued warnings to the Taiwan side.

“We will properly protect order in related sea areas, and the lives, assets and safety of fishermen,” the coast guard said.

The formation included a modified former frigate of the Chinese Navy.

On Feb. 19, the China Coast Guard forcibly boarded a Taiwan tourism boat containing about 20 people near the Kinmen islands, in a sea area closer to Chinese shores. The next day, coast guard vessels squared off with Taiwan vessels for about an hour in an area controlled by Taiwan’s maritime authorities.

According to Taiwan media, China Coast Guard ships also appeared off the Matsu islands, an area where China appears to be increasingly active.

The current tension was spurred by an accident on Feb. 14, in which a Chinese fishing boat capsized while escaping from a crackdown by the Taiwan side in a marine area under the Taiwan authorities’ jurisdiction.

The Chinese government denied Taiwan’s authority saying, “There are no sea areas under Taiwan’s jurisdiction.”

Experts in Taiwan affairs have said China’s response is similar to its actions to change the status quo by force and establish a fait accompli near the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture. China Coast Guard vessels have repeatedly intruded into Japanese territorial waters near the Senkakus.

According to Taiwan’s coast guard administration, the equivalent of Japan’s Coast Guard, an annual average of 35 Chinese vessels entered sea areas controlled by Taiwan authorities and were captured over the five-year period through last year.

“The vessels were captured based on the law. Our actions will not change in the future,” said an official of Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council, which is in charge of policies regarding China.