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2 surviving fishermen return to mainland after fatal incident

《环球时报》 2024-02-21

(来源:Global Times,2024-02-21)

This aerial photo taken in Xiamen, Fujian Province on June 5, 2023 shows the view of Kinmen county, Taiwan island. Photo: VCG

This aerial photo taken in Xiamen, Fujian Province on June 5, 2023 shows the view of Kinmen county, Taiwan island. Photo: VCG

The two surviving fishermen of a fatal incident caused when their vessel capsized after being chased near Kinmen Island returned to the Chinese mainland on Tuesday, accompanied by representatives of the Red Cross Society of China (RCSC) branch in the port city of Quanzhou, Fujian Province.

At 9:20 am on Tuesday, RCSC representatives escorted six family members of the fishermen aboard a vessel bound for Kinmen, a few kilometers off Xiamen city of Fujian Province, according to a Xinhua News Agency report.

On February 14, a fishing boat from Fujian was treated brutally by Taiwan authorities in waters near Kinmen, leading to all four people on board falling into the sea, with two of them perishing.

In the wake of the fatal incident, the mainland strengthened law enforcement and patrols in the waters between Xiamen and Kinmen to protect the safety of mainland fishermen.

Experts said Chinese mainland's operation is fully justified, and urged the DPP to respect the lives and property of mainland fishermen with concrete actions.

Limited kindness

A cross-party alliance of Kinmen county council and a non-party alliance group in Kinmen held a press conference on Tuesday, expressing their condolences and regret over the deaths of the two mainland fishermen. They said they hope that Taiwan authorities will release the truth of the incident investigation as soon as possible to dispel outside doubts, according to Taiwan media.

The Labor Party of Taiwan on Tuesday called on Taiwan society, especially the DPP authorities, to pay attention to dealing with the aftermath of the death of the two mainland fishermen, in order to create an environment for rational communication and avoid further inciting cross-Straits confrontations.

A few days ago, Chen Fu-hai, the county chief of Kinmen, expressed condolences over the death of the mainland fishermen. However, other than local groups and opposition parties, the DPP authorities have yet to apologize or express their condolences for the deaths.

"People can say that Taiwan authorities' reaction is low-key, but in the eyes of the mainlanders, they have exhibited complete indifference, when even just a little apology and mourning could make the situation better than it is now," Xin Qiang, director of the Taiwan studies center at Fudan University, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

After the incident, Kuan Bi-ling, head of Taiwan's ocean affairs authority claimed the actions of the Taiwan side were necessary law enforcement, and blamed the mainland vessel for entering into "prohibited waters."

The mainland's Taiwan Affairs Office spokesperson Zhu Fenglian said on Saturday that fishermen from across the Taiwan Straits have traditionally operated in the waters of Xiamen and Kinmen, and that there is no such thing as "prohibition or restriction of waters."

The DPP authorities' attitude toward mainland fishermen is very unfriendly and hostile, Zhang Wensheng, deputy dean of the Taiwan Research Institute at Xiamen University, said, noting that they have neither the ability nor the desire to resolve cross-Straits fishing disputes, and just pass the buck to the mainland. According to Zhang, politicians in the Taiwan island who harbor the ideology of "Taiwan independence" regard law enforcement in the Straits as state-to-state relations.

Experts noted that fishermen from both sides have traditionally operated in the Xiamen-Kinmen waters and there is no "territory under Taiwan control" in legal sense. The mainland's regular law enforcement patrols in the related waters are legitimate and clarify the confusion.

Through this incident, the mainland public can also see that the Taiwan authorities do not have the ability or courage to engage in high-intensity confrontation with the mainland, experts said, the mainland has the strategic initiative on how to solve the Taiwan question.

Fully justified

According to Taiwan media, a Taiwan tour vessel was boarded and inspected by Fujian coast guard for about 30 minutes in waters between Kinmen and Xiamen on Monday. The coast guard officers examined the vessel's navigation plan, documents and captain and crew licenses.

On Sunday, China Coast Guard (CCG) spokesperson Gan Yu said that the Fujian coast guard will strengthen its maritime law enforcement and carry out regular law enforcement and patrols in the waters between Xiamen and Kinmen to ensure the safety of fishermen's lives and property.

The word "regular" means an upgrade inmultiple aspects in terms of marine lawenforcement, such as frequency, scope andintensity, Xin said.

According to the expert, in the past, the mainland did not conduct very frequent law enforcement and inspections in the waters between Xiamen and Kinmen, nor did the mainland strictly enforce the law on fishermen from Taiwan, and rarely took tough countermeasures against the illegal law enforcement by the Taiwan authorities.

These are evidence of the goodwill and restraint shown by the mainland, but they have led the Taiwan authorities to further take risky provocations, Xin said.

Xin believes that regular patrols by the Fujian coast guard will definitely get closer to Kinmen and its associated islands. The mainland will also step up efforts to protect the legitimate rights and interests of mainland fishermen from possible harassment by Taiwan authorities.

Zhang said that strengthening law enforcement and patrols in relevant waters is actually a denial of Taiwan authorities' self-claimed "prohibited or restricted waters."

Taiwan is part of China and so is Kinmen. Relevant waters are under the jurisdiction of the People's Republic of China, and it is natural to exercise law enforcement power and jurisdiction, Zhang said.

Regular law enforcement of the Fujian coast guard is a declaration of jurisdiction and a manifestation that the two sides belong to one and the same China, Zhang added.

According to the expert, the coast guard's operations are conducive to protecting the safety of mainland fishermen and avoiding the further expansion of cross-Straits fishing disputes. It is also a warning to Taiwan authorities that they should not take brutal enforcement actions against mainland fishermen, which is not conducive to the stability of cross-Straits relations.

Regarding mainland's latest inspection and patrol, Kuan of Taiwan's OAC said that the vessels from Taiwan need not stop for mainland coast ships, according to Taiwan-based media.

If DPP authorities choose a confrontational stance and do not restrain themselves, the mainland has too many options in its toolbox to counter it, Xin said.

The risk of cross-Straits friction would be reduced if Taiwan authorities stops its provocations and shows basic respect for the lives and property of mainland fishermen, Xin added.