Chinese mainland, Taiwan hold joint rescue as mainland fishing boat sinks near Kinmen water; two fishermen confirmed dead
Published: Mar 14, 2024 12:16 PM
Photo: screenshot from Taiwan-based media

Rescue vessels from Chinese mainland and Taiwan seen in waters near  Kinmen on March 14, 2024. Photo: screenshot from Taiwan-based media

A Chinese mainland fishing boat with six crew members aboard capsized on Thursday in waters near Kinmen, a cross-Straits joint search and rescue effort is underway. 

According to China Central Television (CCTV), mainland fishing boat "Minlongyu 61222" sank at 2:58 am in waters near the Dongding Island. As of press time, two mainland fishermen are dead, two had been rescued, and two are still missing, media from both Taiwan and Chinese mainland reported, citing sources from Taiwan's coast guard.

According to reports, Taiwan's rescue command center received the incident report from Chinese mainland at around 6 am that a mainland fishing boat had capsized 15 nautical miles (27 kilometers) southwest of Kinmen.

The mainland has dispatched helicopters, sea rescue vessels and patrol ships to conduct search and rescue missions within a radius of 37.4 kilometers (20 nautical miles) from where the ship sank. Taiwan coast guard also deployed four ships to join the mainland's rescue effort, according to Taiwan-based media. 

Chou Mei-wu, head of Taiwan's coast guard, said on Thursday that his department has deployed divers to search together with the mainland counterparts, if current conditions allow, they will dive into the cabin to search missing individuals.

Chou said that the Kinmen-Xiamen waters are narrow waters, and if the two sides of the Straits cannot cooperate, many things will be difficult to deal with. 

He said his department has a good communication mechanism with the Chinese mainland counterpart in the past two decades, which enables people to exchange information when emergency occurs. 

The fishermen were reportedly from Zhangzhou, East China's Fujian Province. The cause of the incident is still unclear so far.

Chen Fu-hai, the regional leader of Kinmen, ordered relevant departments to stay focused on the incident and provide necessary support to mainland. He also expressed wishes that mainland fishermen would be safely rescued, according to media report.

The cross-Straits joint rescue operation came a month after a brutal expulsion of a mainland fishing boat by the Taiwan coast guard which caused the deaths of two mainland fishermen on February 14. Taiwan authorities have not yet given a convincing account of the process and the truth of the incident.

Compared with the previous incident, the Taiwan authorities' response and handling are obviously more active and positive, Li Zhenguang, deputy director at the Institute of Taiwan Studies under the Beijing Union University, told the Global Times on Thursday. 

In a life-and-death situation, the two sides of Straits need to continue to respond quickly along the existing mechanisms, Li said, noting the joint effort provides a good example for cross-Straits cooperation for maritime rescue. 

According to Zhu Fenglian, spokesperson of Taiwan Affairs Office under the State Council, Chinese mainland has done a lot of work to ensure the normal operation of fishermen on both sides of the Taiwan Straits, especially setting up reception facilities for Taiwan fishermen in many coastal areas, and providing Taiwan fishing boats and fishermen with shelter, supplies, rescue and other relevant help.

In the process of integrated development, the two sides of the Taiwan Straits should form a mechanism that can jointly serve the people on both sides. Both sides should work in a positive direction to help and facilitate people on both sides.

It is hoped that the two sides of the Taiwan Straits can continue to work together on maritime rescue in the Kinmen-Xiamen waters when needed, which is also in line with the common expectations of compatriots on both sides, Li said