five Chinese ships detected in ‘restricted waters’ around island

five Chinese ships detected in ‘restricted waters’ around island
five Chinese ships detected in ‘restricted waters’ around island

China continues its strategy of intimidation towards Taiwan. This Tuesday, five Chinese ships sailed “gathered south of Kinmen and [ont] penetrated our waters » to 3 p.m. (0700 GMT), the Taiwan Coast Guard unit patrolling the area said. The latter have “quickly dispatched patrol ships and firmly enforced the law”, they communicated. And to add: “Under our duress, Chinese coast guard vessels left the country’s restricted waters at 5:09 p.m..”

In recent months, Chinese coast guards have frequently appeared around the waters of Kinmen, an island dependent on Taipei located five kilometers from the Chinese city of Xiamen. This Tuesday’s incident is also the fifth intrusion by the Chinese coast guard into the waters around this island in May, according to Taiwanese forces.

More generally, China maintains an almost daily military presence around Taiwan, sending planes and warships. As recently as last Thursday, Taiwan’s Defense Ministry and Coast Guard said they had detected dozens of Chinese fighter jets and warships around the territory of the self-governing archipelago. For the Taiwanese Coast Guard, these actions “seriously affect maritime security and undermine peace and stability around the Taiwan Strait”.

“We call on China to show restraint and immediately stop this irrational behavior,” they added.

For China, nothing can prevent reunification with Taiwan, not even “interference” from the United States

A few days before the inauguration of the Taiwanese president

This incident occurs less than a week before the inauguration of Taiwanese President-elect Lai Ching-te, scheduled for May 20. The current vice president is considered a “dangerous separatist” by the Chinese government. These deployments of Chinese ships around Taiwan have increased since the presidential election, which was held on January 13. Because, like her predecessor Tsai Ing-wen, Lai Ching-te rejects the demands of China, which considers Taiwan as part of its territory to be retaken one day, by force if necessary. His coming to power is therefore not viewed favorably by Beijing, which declared that he would bring “war and decline » from Taiwan.

China is not only trying to intimidate Taiwan. In the waters of the South China Sea, Chinese ships have also been in confrontation with Philippine ships. Because Beijing claims sovereignty over almost the entirety of this body of water, through which billions of dollars of goods pass each year. And at the same time, other neighboring countries – such as Taiwan and the Philippines but also Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei – have competing, sometimes overlapping, claims. Except that China doesn’t care and has hundreds of coast guard and navy ships patrolling there to create tension.

Japan, Philippines and United States to strengthen ties in the face of China’s ‘dangerous and aggressive behavior’

Risk of escalation

The fact remains that several of these deployments ended in deaths. On February 14, a Chinese speedboat carrying four people capsized near Kinmen while the Taiwanese coast guard was pursuing it, killing two people. Another Chinese boat capsized in the area in March, also killing two crew members. And in early May, the Philippines accused the Chinese Coast Guard of damaging a Philippine Coast Guard boat and another from the Bureau of Fisheries by firing water cannons on it near the Scarborough Reef, controlled by China but claimed through Manila.

These incidents raise fears of a conflict in this area, which could involve the United States. The latter are in fact allies of the Philippines and recently released a military assistance envelope of 8 billion dollars for Taiwan. The pressure is such that any small event could trigger an escalation of tensions.

(With AFP)

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