Published: 11:26, February 19, 2024 | Updated: 17:00, February 19, 2024
Taiwan's callous Kinmen act draws flak from mainland
By Zhang Yi and Jiang Chenglong

An undated photo shows Zhu Fenglian, spokeswoman for the State Council Taiwan Affairs Office. (PHOTO / PEOPLE.COM.CN VIA CHINA DAILY)

A Chinese mainland spokeswoman on Sunday voiced firm support for the coast guard authority in Fujian province to conduct regular patrols in the Xiamen-Kinmen maritime area after two mainland fishermen drowned near Kinmen, an island administered by Taiwan, located on the Fujian coast.

The China Coast Guard also announced on Sunday that the authority in Fujian will strengthen its maritime law enforcement capabilities and conduct regular patrols in the waters near Fujian's Xiamen and Kinmen to maintain further order in these areas and safeguard fishermen's lives and property.

The measure was announced after a fishing boat from the mainland was forcefully driven into the waters near Kinmen by Taiwan authorities on Wednesday, causing all four people on board to fall into the sea and resulting in the two fatalities.

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Zhu Fenglian, a spokeswoman for the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, said: "The violent expulsion of the boat by Taiwan authorities was a callous act with disregard for human life. It has caused strong indignation across the mainland, seriously harming the feelings of compatriots on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, and severely damaging cross-Strait relations."

Tang Yonghong, a professor of Taiwan studies at Xiamen University, said the waters near Xiamen and Kinmen are traditional fishing grounds shared by fishermen from both sides, and there are no "prohibited" or "restricted" areas

Many people expressed anger and sorrow over the incident that occurred during Spring Festival.

Huang Chih-hsien, a political commentator in Taiwan, wrote in a social media post: "This is a tragedy involving two lives. The mainland fishermen who lost their lives are our compatriots. What angers me is that a tragedy resulting in the loss of two lives due to pursuit is being manipulated as if it were a matter of course."

Taiwan's coast guard authority claimed that the mainland boat was entering "prohibited" waters off the coast of Kinmen island. The vessel capsized while attempting to flee, and the coast patrol boat rescued two crew members. The two others, who were found unconscious in the sea, were confirmed dead after being taken to a hospital, the Taiwan coast guard said.

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Tang Yonghong, a professor of Taiwan studies at Xiamen University, said that Taiwan and the mainland belong to one China, and there is no so-called boundary between the two. The waters near Xiamen and Kinmen are traditional fishing grounds shared by fishermen from both sides, and there are no "prohibited" or "restricted" areas, he said.

Taiwan should have worked together with the mainland to protect the fishing activities of fishermen from both sides, and it has no right to arbitrarily prohibit or restrict these activities, let alone violently expel fishermen, leading to injuries and fatalities, Tang added.

Zhu Fenglian stressed that while the Chinese mainland has goodwill toward Taiwan compatriots, it will not tolerate Taiwan's disregard for the safety of mainland fishermen's lives and property

Military commentator Zhang Junshe said the law enforcement patrols conducted by the China Coast Guard in the Xiamen-Kinmen maritime area serve as proof that the area does not constitute "prohibited or restricted waters".

He said the waters patrolled by the China Coast Guard are located near the mainland and have traditionally been fishing grounds for fishermen from both sides of the Strait.

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"The China Coast Guard conducting law enforcement patrols within China's jurisdictional waters is a normal act of exercising sovereignty, which is beyond reproach from the perspectives of both international and domestic law," Zhang said.

Zhu, the spokeswoman, said that for many years, the mainland has upheld the concept that both sides of the Taiwan Strait are one family, and has made significant efforts to ensure the smooth operations of fishermen from both sides.

This includes establishing reception facilities for Taiwan fishermen in numerous coastal areas, providing them assistance such as shelters and supplies, and rescuing Taiwan fishing boats and fishermen, she said.

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In contrast, the Democratic Progressive Party authorities in Taiwan have, for some time, forcefully detained mainland fishing boats under various pretexts and treated mainland fishermen in a rude and dangerous manner, she said, adding that this was the key reason why the fatal incident occurred.

While the Chinese mainland has goodwill toward Taiwan compatriots, it will not tolerate Taiwan's disregard for the safety of mainland fishermen's lives and property, she stressed.

Zhu called on Taiwan to promptly release the boat and the fishermen, carry out follow-up work, find the truth and seriously hold those responsible to account, providing an explanation to the families of the victims and compatriots on both sides.

The mainland reserves the right to take further measures, and Taiwan will bear all consequences, she added.