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Two Chinese fishermen drown after chase with Taiwan’s coast guard

Beijing, which claims the self-ruling democracy as its territory, strongly condemned the deaths of the two men, whom Taiwanese officials accused of trespassing.
water hazard rescue personnel
Members of the Taiwanese ccast guard inspecting a capsized vessel off Taiwan on Wednesday.Taiwan Coast Guard Administration via AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

BANGKOK — Two Chinese fishermen drowned while being chased by Taiwan’s coast guard off Taiwan’s Kinmen archipelago, the coast guard said Wednesday while accusing them of trespassing.

The deaths are unusual despite the level of Chinese activity in the waters near Kinmen, which is closer to China than it is to Taiwan’s main island. China claims all of Taiwan as part of its territory.

China’s Taiwan Affairs Office strongly condemned the deaths and called for an investigation, saying “such a malicious event during the Spring Festival seriously hurts the feelings of compatriots on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.” Both China and Taiwan are celebrating the Lunar New Year holiday.

The statement accused the governing Democratic Progressive Party in Taiwan of using “all sorts of excuses to forcefully inspect Chinese fishing vessels, and using violent and dangerous methods towards Chinese fishermen.”

The unnamed Chinese vessel had been sailing about one nautical mile off the coast of an islet of Kinmen island, Taiwan’s coast guard Administration said in a statement. The Chinese vessel attempted to flee but capsized.

Four fishermen fell into the water and two survived and are in “good shape,” while resuscitation efforts on the other two failed, the vice captain of the coast guard in Kinmen, Chen Jien-wen, told a local TV channel.

The coast guard said the case has been reported to the Kinmen prosecutor’s office, and the fishermen’s families were being contacted via official channels.

Kinmen is in the Taiwan Strait that separates China and Taiwan. From some parts of the archipelago, the southern Chinese city of Xiamen is visible to the naked eye.

Kinmen residents in recent years have reported seeing an increase in sand dredger vessels from China, which take sand from the ocean floor, as well as fishing ships, close to its coast. At times, dozens of the ships can be seen from the island.