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China's Xinhua releases photo of warship nearing Taiwan's power station

Locals on Taiwan's east coast question authenticity of Xinhua images, call warship a 'ghost ship'

(Xinhua screenshot)


(Xinhua screenshot)  

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A picture of a Chinese warship supposedly just off the east coast of Taiwan has been posted by Chinese state media, but it is thought to be part of the state's psychological war against Taiwan.

Xinhua's front page picture on Saturday (Aug. 6) has a caption saying the photo was taken on Friday (Aug. 5) and shows a Taiwan military vessel, as seen from the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) warship.

The backdrop to the picture is the east coast of Taiwan, where a facility operated by the privately-run Ho-Ping Power Company can be clearly identified. The facility is responsible for supplying power to the adjacent industrial park and its connected port.

The picture has gone viral in Chinese and Taiwanese news media. China Times reported that two Chinese destroyers — the Russian-made Changchun and the China-made Nanjing — were seen taking part in exercises off eastern Taiwan and that the vessel featured in the Xinhua images is Nanjing. Both vessels are said to have advanced vertical launching systems, according to Up Media.

A Hualien-based whale-watching boat operator, however, questioned the authenticity of the images, suggesting one of them could have been edited. No sightings of Chinese warships were reported among fishermen or whale-watching boat operators on Friday, as claimed by Xinhua, according to a Facebook post.

Comments left under the post pointed to evidence of the picture being edited, including unusual lighting and the focus of the crew member's binoculars. The captain of a Taiwanese boat was cited as saying: "They must be ghost ships as no fishermen have spotted them this week despite their size."

Taiwan's Military News Agency reported that the Ministry of National Defense (MND) on Saturday morning (Aug. 6) spotted several naval ships and military aircraft crossing Taiwan's median line. It deployed "patrolling aircraft and naval vessels, and land-based missile systems in response."