Penghu coast guard chases off illegal Chinese sand dredgers

More than 40 Chinese vessels were found operating near Cimei Township

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Taiwan coast guard patrol vessel 

Taiwan coast guard patrol vessel  (CNA photo)

More than 40 Chinese vessels were chased from Taiwan's territorial waters Friday (April 18) after they were found illegally dredging sea sand, the Penghu coast guard said.

The Chinese dredgers and sand transporters were discovered operating about 50 nautical miles west-southwest of Penghu's Cimei Township, which is the southernmost island of the Penghu archipelago in the Taiwan Strait, the coast guard said. The operation carried out against the Chinese vessels began at midnight and lasted until the following morning.

According to Penghu authorities, the coast guard's 600-ton "Taichung"-class patrol vessel was deployed to chase the Chinese boats beyond the 60 nautical mile marker west of Cimei and out of Taiwan's territorial waters. The coast guard said the incident marked the first of its kind in three months after China recently lifted its lockdown due to the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.