China steps up activities near Kinmen Islands after fatal accident

NHK has learned that the China Coast Guard has apparently stepped up its activities near the Kinmen Islands after a fatal fishing boat accident last month. Taiwan effectively controls the islands, which are located several kilometers off the coast of Xiamen City in China's Fujian Province.

China Coast Guard ships patrolling near Kinmen Islands

Two Chinese fishermen died after their boat capsized while being pursued by Taiwan's coast guard on February 14.

Location data subsequently revealed seven China Coast Guard ships were taking turns operating around the islands between February 15 and March 3.

The vessels' identification numbers suggest that three of them possess artillery capabilities. They are believed to have also entered Japanese waters near Okinawa Prefecture's Senkaku Islands in the past. Japan controls the islands. The Japanese government maintains the islands are an inherent part of Japan's territory. China and Taiwan claim them.

According to marine traffic data, China Coast Guard ships were navigating near what Taiwan considers to be prohibited and restricted waters around Kinmen.

China's Taiwan Affairs Office spokesperson Zhu Fenglian says Taiwan did not offer an apology, and that Beijing demands it publish the truth as soon as possible and punish those responsible.

Local fishermen hope for peaceful solution

The head of a Kinmen Islands fisheries association says some fishermen are unwilling to risk entering waters far from the port due to China Coast Guard activities. He adds that their income has declined as a result.

The head of a Kinmen Islands fisheries association has called on members to take precautions when out at sea.

He hopes the two sides will resolve the issue peacefully and that the association's fishermen will be able to once again operate as usual.

Expert: China will continue to pressure Taiwan

Takushoku University Professor Momma Rira, an expert on China-Taiwan relations, says Beijing used the February 14 accident as an opportunity to pressure Taipei.

Taiwan-China expert Momma Rira says China's move appears aimed at asserting the waters around the Kinmen Islands are under its jurisdiction.

Momma notes the China Coast Guard always sends three or four ships to the waters around Okinawa Prefecture's Senkaku Islands and says the situation is the same.

China is also pressuring the Philippines, Vietnam and other countries in the South China Sea. Momma says China wants to nullify their territorial claims and make it China's sea.

He also says China will continue to pressure Taiwan by constantly operating several ships in waters around the Kinmen Islands.

Momma adds that China may later do the same in waters further north around the Matsu Islands.