Chinese coast guard temporarily boards Taiwanese tourist boat near Kinmen islands, reports Taipei government

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File photo.

19th February 2024 – (Taipei) Chinese coast guard personnel briefly boarded a Taiwanese tourist boat near islands adjacent to China’s coast on Monday, according to the government in Taipei. This incident follows China’s announcement on Sunday of regular patrols to strengthen law enforcement activity around the Kinmen islands, located opposite the Chinese cities of Xiamen and Quanzhou. The move came after two Chinese nationals, who had entered prohibited waters too close to Kinmen and were fleeing Taiwan’s coast guard, tragically lost their lives.

The Taiwanese coast guard released a statement confirming that six Chinese coast guard officers boarded a Taiwanese tourist boat carrying 11 crew members and 23 passengers late Monday afternoon. The purpose of their boarding was to inspect the boat’s route plan, certificate, and crew licenses. Approximately half an hour later, the Chinese officers left the vessel. Taiwan’s coast guard observed two Chinese coast guard boats approaching the tourist boat and dispatched its own ship to accompany the vessel back to the port on the main island of Kinmen.

According to Taiwan’s coast guard, due to shallow waters, the Taiwanese tourist boat “inclined towards” the Chinese side during the journey. China’s coast guard has not yet provided any comment, as publicly available contact details for the organisation are unavailable.

Taiwan’s coast guard has called on China to “uphold peace and rationality” in the waters around Kinmen, cautioning people to avoid approaching the waters on the Chinese side. A senior Taiwan official, speaking on condition of anonymity, revealed that President Tsai Ing-wen received real-time updates on the situation as it unfolded. The official highlighted that Taiwan’s security agencies have long been concerned about the scenario of China’s coast guard inspecting Taiwanese ships.

China’s government declared on Saturday that it does not recognise any off-limits or restricted zones for Chinese fishermen around Kinmen. The control of Kinmen has been under Taipei’s jurisdiction since the Republic of China government retreated to Taiwan in 1949 following its defeat in the civil war against Mao Zedong’s communists, who established the People’s Republic of China.