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Two Chinese Fishermen Drown in Taiwanese Waters, Beijing and Taiwan Respond

There have been many instances of mainland-Chinese fishermen entering Taiwanese waters using “three-no” vessels (i.e. boats without a name, without a vessel certificate, and without a registered port). On February 14, a “three-no” vessel went fishing in Taiwanese waters near Beiding Island, Kinmen (Taiwan). As the Taiwanese coast guard approached the boat, the Chinese boat capsized while attempting to flee. Two of the four Chinese nationals died by drowning, and the other two were arrested by Taiwanese authorities.

On February 17th, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office issued a press release stating that there was no such thing as “prohibited or restricted waters” in the strait between Kinmen and Xiamen (mainland). On February 18, Zhu Fenglian, a spokesperson for the Taiwan Affairs Office, alleged that the Taiwanese coast guard had “violently driven away” the mainland-Chinese fishing boats, resulting in the deaths of the two fishermen. “It was a callous act and caused strong indignation among people from all walks of life in mainland China, seriously harming the feelings of compatriots on both sides of the Taiwan Strait and seriously damaging cross-strait relations. The Taiwan Affairs Office firmly supports the decision of the mainland China’s maritime police department on conducting routine law enforcement patrols, to maintain the normal order of the relevant waters and ensure the safety of mainland fishermen’s lives and property.” (Editor’s notes: Beijing’s patrol boats are much larger than Taiwan’s. China has been using large maritime patrol boats to intimidate smaller Philippine patrol vessels in the ongoing Spratly Islands dispute in the South China Sea).

On February 18, Taiwan’s United Daily News reported on a press release by Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council responding to the comments from Beijing. According to the article, the press release stated that “the two sides of the Taiwan Strait are not affiliated with each other. According to the regulations of Taiwan’s Cross-Strait Act, mainland vessels are not allowed to enter restricted or prohibited waters of Taiwan without permission. Our competent authority will continue to enforce the law by expelling or detaining trespassing vessels to safeguard the rights and interests of fishermen. This has been the case in the past, is the case now, and will continue to be the case in the future.”

1. People’s Daily, February 18, 2024
2. United Daily News (Taiwan), February 18, 2024