Tensions Rise as China Bolsters Patrols Near Taiwanese-Controlled Islands

Tensions Rise as China Bolsters Patrols Near Taiwanese-Controlled Islands

Beijing - On Sunday, China's coast guard announced plans to enhance its law enforcement efforts and conduct regular patrols around a cluster of islands under Taiwanese control near the Chinese coast. This move comes amidst escalating tensions following the deaths of two Chinese nationals.

Taiwan recently defended its coast guard's actions after a Chinese speedboat, approaching a frontline Taiwanese island, capsized while attempting to evade a Taiwanese coast guard ship, resulting in two fatalities. Taiwan, although claimed by China, has repeatedly voiced concerns over Chinese vessels operating in Taiwanese-controlled waters, particularly around the Kinmen and Matsu islands, situated close to the Chinese coast.

China criticized Taiwan's actions, denouncing the incident near Kinmen's Beiding islet as "malicious." In response, China's coast guard stated its intention to bolster maritime law enforcement and conduct routine patrols and inspections in the waters surrounding Kinmen and Xiamen, a nearby Chinese city. The objective is to maintain operational order in these waters and ensure the safety of fishermen and their assets.

China's Taiwan Affairs Office expressed strong condemnation over the deaths, emphasizing that there are no off-limits waters. It asserted the historical rights of fishermen from both sides to operate in the Xiamen-Kinmen maritime area. While expressing goodwill towards the Taiwanese people, China affirmed its zero tolerance for Taiwan's disregard for the safety of Chinese fishermen.

Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council reiterated its commitment to enforcing regulations prohibiting unauthorized Chinese access to waters around Kinmen. It dismissed China's accusations of "rough expulsions," clarifying that Taiwanese forces operate within legal bounds. However, it acknowledged that incidents involving unmarked or uncertified ships making dangerous maneuvers during attempts to evade authorities are regrettable.

Historically, Kinmen and Matsu have been under Taipei's control since the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949. Despite being former battlegrounds, they have transformed into popular tourist destinations, albeit with some areas heavily fortified by Taiwan's military. Taiwan accuses China of employing "grey-zone warfare," using unconventional tactics to pressure Taiwan without engaging in overt conflict, such as sending civilian ships into Taiwanese waters.

In a separate development, a delegation of low-ranking Chinese officials from Shanghai arrived in Taipei for the city's Lantern Festival at the invitation of the Taipei city government. However, Taipei Mayor Chiang Wan-an declined to meet the delegation, led by Xu Hao, citing similar protests against a deputy chief of the Taiwan Affairs Office's Shanghai branch during last year's event.

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