Taiwan Calls on China to Release Fishermen Caught Fishing in Chinese Waters

Frank Fang
By Frank Fang
July 2, 2024China News
Taiwan Calls on China to Release Fishermen Caught Fishing in Chinese Waters
A fisherman leaps to his boat docked in harbor in Toucheng, north eastern Taiwan, on Aug. 21, 2013. (Wally Santana/AP Photo)

TAIPEI, Taiwan—Taiwanese authorities are calling on communist China to release fishermen in its custody after the Chinese coast guard boarded and seized a Taiwan-flagged fishing boat on Tuesday night, in a further escalation of tensions.

Taiwan Vice Premier Cheng Li-chiun urged Beijing during a public event on Wednesday, to release the Taiwanese boat and all of its crew “as soon as possible.” The fishing boat, called the Ta-Jin-Man No. 88, had a crew of two Taiwanese and three Indonesian migrant workers.

Ms. Cheng added that two Taiwanese government agencies—the Mainland Affairs Council and the Fisheries Agency—were communicating with the Chinese side to resolve the issue.

At a press conference on Wednesday, Hsieh Ching-chin, deputy director-general of Taiwan’s Coast Guard Administration (CGA), called on Beijing to leave politics behind to resolve the issue.

“The [Taiwan] coast guard calls on the mainland side not to use political factors to handle this situation,” Mr. Hsieh said. “Please clarify the reasons as soon as possible and release the boat and people.”

Mr. Hsieh explained that the incident happened outside of Taiwan-controlled waters.

“The location where the ship was boarded is 11.2 miles away from Shenhu Town in Jinjiang, China, and is located in China’s territorial waters,” Mr. Hsiesh said. “According to the owner of the fishing vessel, China’s side had broadcasted a warning telling them not to carry out activities during its no-fishing period before they boarded the vessel last night.”

According to the CGA, the Taiwanese fishing boat was boarded about 17.5 nautical miles outside Taiwan’s controlled waters off Kinmen, an offshore Taiwanese island about 1.9 miles from China.

The incident happened in waters that have been a “common working area” shared by Chinese and Taiwanese fishermen, said Chang Chih-sheng, director-general of Taiwan’s Fisheries Agency, on Wednesday.

The incident comes amid rising tension across the Taiwan Strait following the inauguration of Taiwan’s new president, Lai Ching-ten, in May. Days after Mr. Lai was sworn in, the Chinese Communist Party launched two days of what it called “punishment” military drills encircling Taiwan, prompting the U.S. State Department to issue a statement expressing concerns.

Fishing Boat Incident

The CGA has published a detailed timeline of Tuesday’s incident. Chinese authorities boarded the Taiwanese fishing boat at 8:14 p.m. local time after it was intercepted by two Chinese coast guard vessels. In response, the CGA dispatched three vessels on a chase in an attempt to rescue the crew.

An hour later, as more Chinese coast guard vessels arrived on the scene, the CGA decided to abort its rescue mission to avoid “escalating tensions.”

By 10:30 p.m. local time, the Taiwanese boat had been escorted to the Chinese port of Weitou in southern China’s Fujian Province.

On Wednesday, the China Coast Guard issued a statement saying that the Taiwanese boat had engaged in “illegal fishing” a day earlier. The agency also accused the Taiwanese vessels of “trying to interfere with its normal law enforcement.”

Every year, the Chinese regime bans fishing for a few months in nearby seas, a decision that has drawn protests from its neighbors, including Vietnam and the Philippines.

Prior to Tuesday’s incident, the regime had seized 17 Taiwanese fishing boats in three separate cases since 2003, accusing them of violating its fishing bans, according to the CGA. Eleven were released after paying fines, and six were allowed to return to Taiwan after negotiations between the CGA and Chinese authorities.

Judha Nugraha, director for citizen protection at Indonesia’s foreign ministry, said the Indonesian Consulate in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou will assist the detained Indonesians.

Chuang Jui-hsiung, a legislator of the ruling Democratic Progress Party (DPP), called on China to exercise restraint, pointing to how Beijing had recently stirred up tensions in the South China Sea and waters near Japan, according to local government-run Radio Taiwan International.

Eric Chu, chairman of the opposition Kuomintang Party (KMT), responded to the incident in a press release, saying there shouldn’t be any confrontation or conflict between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait. Mr. Chu expressed hope that the issue could be resolved quickly.

Last month, the Japanese government lodged a protest against China after four armed Chinese coast guard vessels entered what Japan considers its territorial waters in the East China Sea.

Also, last month, Chinese coast guard personnel clashed with Filipino troops in the South China Sea. Following the Chinese regime’s “dangerous and irresponsible actions,” the U.S. State Department said. Secretary of State Antony Blinken underscored Washington’s “ironclad commitment” to Manila under the Mutual Defense Treaty during a call with his Philippine counterpart.

Reuters contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times