China Increases Patrols Near Taiwan After Mainlander Deaths

( – The history between China and Taiwan is rife with tension. Despite being self-governed, China has always believed the island to be under its umbrella. Over the past few years, the situation has only escalated. Taiwan has accused Beijing of regularly violating its airspace and trespassing in its waters. An incident between Chinese fishermen and the Taiwanese coast guard recently seems to have only exacerbated the situation.

The incident occurred on Wednesday, February 14. The Taiwanese coast guard noticed a Chinese fishing boat was trespassing in waters just off the Kinmen archipelago, an area the island nation has deemed restricted. It gave chase, causing the fishing vessel to capsize with four crew members onboard. Two of the fishermen died despite resuscitation attempts, and the other two were captured by Taiwanese officials and brought back to Kinmen.

In a statement to reporters in a press briefing, Minister of Ocean Affairs Council Kuan Bi-ling said the Coast Guard Administration (CGA) immediately contacted the families of the deceased. The CGA also noted that the fishing vessel was a target because it contained “no name, no registration information, and no certificate of port registration. Taiwan said it was investigating the circumstances leading to the two men’s deaths.

The deaths irked Chinese officials, who condemned the actions and claimed none of the waters were restricted. They have vowed to step up patrols in the region and to take further measures, though they did not elaborate on what those measures may be. However, Zhu Fenglian, a spokesperson for China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, said “all the consequences will be borne by Taiwan.”

Chinese Coast Guard spokesman Gan Yu said the agency will monitor waters off Xiamen, which is just a few miles from Kinmen, in order to strengthen maritime enforcement. Taiwan officials, on the other hand, say that Chinese fishermen continue to violate its space and engage “in various actions that damage the marine environment.”

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