Chinese speedboat attack in Taiwanese waters an isolated incident: Defense ministry

Vice defense minister says maritime clash in March not serious enough to be considered Chinese escalation

CGA patrol cutter attacked by Chinese fishing boats on March 19. 

CGA patrol cutter attacked by Chinese fishing boats on March 19.  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Both the Ministry of National Defense (MND) and the Cabinet-level Ocean Affairs Council (OAC) said Thursday (April 16) that the confrontation between Taiwanese and Chinese vessels in March should not be treated as more than an isolated incident.

On March 19, the Coast Guard Administration's (CGA) 9th Offshore Flotilla reported that its vessels had been attacked by more than 10 Chinese speedboats near Kinmen County. Their crews reportedly hurled rocks and broken bottles and even rammed their boats into the Taiwanese vessels before making their escape.

Although no coast guard personnel were injured in the incident, the CGA's new patrol cutter, CP-1022, suffered damage to its hull, and two outboard motors were broken by the strong impact of the collision.

During a question-and-answer session at the Legislative Yuan Thursday, OAC Chairperson Lee Chung-wei (李仲威) and Vice Defense Minister Chang Che-ping (張哲平) said the clash in Taiwan's territorial waters was not serious enough to be considered part of a Chinese invasion plan. They explained that the incident only resulted from the CGA deterring Chinese vessels from intruding into Taiwanese waters for illegal fishing activities.

Lee said that the Chinese fishermen had been worried their nets would be confiscated and hence decided to take extreme measures to evade the Coast Guard. He said there was not enough evidence to prove a political motive behind the attack, despite it being dangerous, reported Liberty Times.

Chang also said he believes the incident should be treated independently from cross-strait tensions since the Chinese government would be more likely to send its aircraft carriers or warplanes to demonstrate its military power, rather than a dozen fishing boats. However, he emphasized that the MND has been paying close attention to Chinese military movements and has stepped up security in Taiwan's waters as well as its air space, reported CNA.

Taiwanese cutter (Left) being rammed by Chinese speedboat March 16. (CGA photo)