Taiwan says China seized fishing boat under new protocol


Taiwanese officials said Wednesday that China seized one of its fishing boats this week under a new protocol that allows the Chinese coast guard to seize vessels operating within China’s maritime boundaries.

According to the Taiwan Coast Guard (CGA), China has stepped up its patrols since a regulation came into effect in June allowing it to seize ships for up to 60 days in waters Beijing claims are its domain.

In response, CGA Deputy Director-General Hsieh Ching-Chin told a news conference on Wednesday that he would step up patrols to protect ships, according to Taiwan’s state news agency Central News Agency.

Hsieh also called for the release of the seized fishing boat, the Da Jin Man No. 88.

On Tuesday evening, Chinese coast guard personnel seized a fishing boat near Taiwan’s Kinmen Islands, detaining two Taiwanese citizens and three Indonesians.

Taiwan’s CGA says it sent ships to rescue the fishing vessel but was forced to withdraw when China sent reinforcements.

According to the Central News Agency, the fishing boat was operating in China’s territorial waters, near the city of Jinjiang. However, according to the Taiwan Fisheries Agency, it was a joint fishing ground and there was a general agreement that the boat was used jointly.

The incident comes amid heightened tensions between Taiwan and China following the inauguration of Taiwanese President William Lai Ching-te, whom Beijing labels a separatist.

After Lai’s inauguration, China staged large-scale military exercises around self-ruled Taiwan, which Beijing considers its own territory.

Chinese aircraft routinely threaten Taiwan’s airspace, forcing the island nation to send in its own jets. Chinese boats also continue to harass Taipei around its maritime borders.

China claims much of the South China Sea as its own, despite an international arbitration ruling that rejected those lines.

The dispute in the South China Sea has led to escalating tensions in recent years with neighboring countries, including the Philippines, which last month repelled a Chinese attack when Chinese personnel armed with machetes boarded a Philippine ship and attacked the Filipino sailors.

The conflict arose when the Philippines tried to reinforce a stranded ship at Second Thomas Shoal, a disputed reef in the South China Sea.

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