Beijing intensifies maritime patrols near Taiwan’s Kinmen islands

Zhu Fenglian

18th February 2024 – (Beijing) China’s coastguard has announced routine patrols in the vicinity of the Kinmen islands, an archipelago governed by Taiwan, also known to many as Quemoy. The move comes on the heels of a tragic incident that resulted in the deaths of two Chinese fishermen, sparking a diplomatic furore between Beijing and Taipei.

The official declaration by the Chinese coastguard, issued on their website this past Sunday, outlines the commencement of regularised patrols in the strait separating the bustling port city of Xiamen in China’s Fujian province, and the Kinmen islands, a mere stone’s throw from the mainland and a strategic defensive point for Taiwan.

The Taiwan Affairs Office, Beijing’s administrative arm governing relations with Taiwan, expressed its backing of these increased maritime activities. Zhu Fenglian, spokeswoman for the office, condemned the Taiwanese authorities’ “rough expulsion” that led to the fishermen’s demise, calling it an act that has “severely harmed the feelings of compatriots on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.”

The two fishermen perished following a pursuit by the Taiwanese coastguard, which accused the fishermen’s speedboat of illegally entering the waters near Kinmen. During the ensuing chase, the vessel capsized, throwing its four crew members into the sea; two of whom were later pronounced dead.

Zhu, in a statement, referenced the historical coexistence of fishermen from both sides within these waters, deeming the area as a traditional fishing ground where no explicit restrictions exist. She denounced Taiwan’s indifference to the welfare of mainland fishermen and demanded the release of the remaining detained fishermen and their vessel.