China Defends Coast Guard Actions Amidst Rising Tensions with Taiwan

China’s government on Wednesday has said that its coast guard patrols around a group of Taiwanese islands near the Chinese coast were “beyond reproach”, and dismissed complaints the boarding of a Taiwan tourist boat had caused panic.

The patrols, initiated this month, are focused on the Taiwan-controlled Kinmen islands, located near China’s Xiamen and Quanzhou cities. 

Tensions escalated after two Chinese nationals lost their lives attempting to flee Taiwan’s coast guard, who intercepted their boat entering prohibited waters.

Last week, Taiwan reported that a tourist boat from Kinmen was briefly boarded by China’s coast guard, leading to panic among passengers. This week, five Chinese ships were accused of entering restricted waters.

Zhu Fenglian, spokesperson for China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, stated during the briefing in Beijing that China does not recognize any off-limits waters around Kinmen for fishermen. She emphasized that the coast guard’s actions were in accordance with the law and did not cause panic.

“I don’t think there is any issue of panic,” Zhu said. She highlighted that the coast guard carries out its official duties to maintain “normal order” and protect the lives of fishermen and travelers.

“Civilized and transparent law enforcement is beyond reproach,” Zhu added.

The strained relations between China and Taiwan have been exacerbated by Beijing’s disapproval of Taiwan’s newly elected president, Lai Ching-te, whom they label a separatist. China does not acknowledge Taiwan’s sovereignty claims and accused Taiwan of acting “maliciously” in the deaths of the two Chinese nationals.

Taiwan, however, defends its actions, asserting that China fails to control its fishing boats, leading to violations of Taiwan’s waters around Kinmen.

Zhu, placing blame on Taiwan, urged parties to respect the historical operations in traditional waters and cease “seizing and detaining mainland fishing boats in a rough and dangerous manner.” 

As tensions persist, the situation remains a focal point in the ongoing complex dynamics between China and Taiwan.