Fujian coast guard conducts routine patrol in waters near Kinmen, ‘safeguarding maritime homeland security, fishing interests’
Published: May 08, 2024 10:38 PM
Photo: Zhongguojunhao

Photo: Zhongguojunhao

The Coast Guard of East China's Fujian Province has recently carried out routine law enforcement patrols in the waters near Kinmen, media outlets affiliated to People's Liberation Army (PLA) announced. Facing hype and suspicions from Taiwan island, Chinese mainland experts said on Wednesday the regular operations were aimed at safeguarding the interests of fishermen on both sides of the Taiwan Straits, as well as China's maritime homeland security, which should not be over-interpreted.

According to a WeChat post released on Wednesday by Zhongguojunhao (lit: Chinese military bugle), account of PLA News and Communication Center, Fujian Coast Guard has conducted regular law enforcement patrols in waters near Kinmen on Monday and Tuesday, to ensure the safety of fishermen and property, particularly in light of recent foggy weather and low visibility at sea.

In a video posted by Zhongguojunhao on Weibo on Tuesday, a PLA reporter said the coast guard ships have once sailed to the vicinity of Beiding Island, less than four nautical miles (7.4 kilometers) from Kinmen Island, and finally arrived at the port of Xiamen, Fujian. 

"When drinking water, one should not forget its source. In order to solve the problem of water shortage on Kinmen Island, Quanzhou and Kinmen Island built a cross-sea water pipeline to provide mainland water for more than 100,000 residents in Kinmen," the reporter said, noting that "during law enforcement patrols, our coast guard not only keeps an eye on the situation on the sea surface, but also protects these undersea facilities from damage."

However, the lawful operation has sparked speculation and suspicion in Taiwan, where local media said it was the first time Chinese mainland has included the protection of water pipelines in the scope of coast guard law enforcement. Taiwan-based said that it's the first time that coast guard operation was announced through PLA media instead of coast guard system. 

The Taiwan-based coast guard administration said on Monday that the mainland ships have sailed through its self-declared "prohibited and restricted waters" and called mainland operation as "endangers navigation safety" and "damages cross-Straits peace and stability."  

Yang Xiao, Deputy director of Institute of Maritime Strategy Studies at China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, told the Global Times on Wednesday that claims from Taiwan side are "more about hype," noting that the vessels' movements were a regular occurrence. 

The Chinese mainland announced a regular patrol in waters near Kinmen in February after mainland fishermen were brutally assaulted by vessels from Taiwan authorities, causing two deaths. The China Coast Guard (CCG) has conducted at least six patrol missions since the above fatal incident according to public release. 

Moreover, Yang said the release from PLA-affiliated media has no particular meaning, as China's Coast Guard Law clearly stipulates that the Coast Guard is also subordinate to the People's Armed Police Force and is led by the Central Military Commission (CMC). The PLA is also lead by CMC. 

Citing the Article 12 of China's Coast Guard Law, Yang remarked that protecting water pipelines is part of the duties of the CCG, so "there is nothing worth hyping." 

Further noting that the Chinese mainland supplies water to Kinmen residents, and the Taiwan side should not ignore mainland's kindness and goodwill that embody "people on both sides of the Straits are one family," Yang added.

Chinese military expert Song Zhongping told the Global Times on Wednesday, that CCG's law enforcement operation within China's maritime territory is not targeting coast guard vessels from Taiwan authorities and Taiwan secessionists, but more to safeguard the overall national maritime security and interests.

In the video released by Zhongguojunhao on Tuesday, an officer from Fujian Coast Guard said there are more than 1,000 ships entering and leaving Xiamen Port every day, and the traffic density is relatively high. In the case of bad marine conditions, coast guard will issue safety warnings to passing vessels. 

Another Fujian Coast Guard officer said that during the regular law enforcement patrol operations at sea, "we are also responsible for the implementation of maritime rescue, resolving maritime disputes, handling maritime police and other tasks."

If fishermen on both sides of the Taiwan Straits need any help, the CCG will resolutely safeguard their interests, Song said, "In the future, CCG will continue to carry out relevant tasks and perform its duties in accordance with the law."