Taiwan says China's coast guard has detained a Taiwanese fishing vessel and demands its release

Taiwan says that China’s coast guard has boarded a Taiwanese fishing boat and steered it to a port in mainland China

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — Taiwan said the Chinese coast guard boarded a Taiwanese fishing boat Tuesday before steering it to a port in mainland China, and demanded that Beijing release the vessel.

The Tachinman 88 was intercepted by two Chinese vessels Tuesday evening near the Kinmen archipelago, which lies a short distance off China’s coast but is controlled by Taiwan, Taiwanese maritime authorities said in a statement.

Taiwan dispatched three vessels to rescue the Tachinman 88, but the one that got close to the fishing boat were blocked by three Chinese boats and told not to interfere, the statement said. The pursuit was called off to avoid escalating the conflict after Taiwan's maritime authorities detected that four more Chinese vessels were moving closer, the statement added.

“The Coast Guard calls on the mainland to refrain from engaging in political manipulation and harming cross-strait relations, and to release the Tachinman ship and crew as soon as possible,” the statement read.

The boat had six crew onboard, including the captain and five migrant workers, according to Taiwan’s official Central News Agency. The vessel was just over 20 kilometers (12 miles) away from Jinjiang in mainland China when it was boarded, Taiwanese authorities said.

China claims self-governing Taiwan as its territory and says the island must come under its control. The Chinese military regularly sends warplanes and ships toward the island and staged a large exercise with dozens of aircraft and vessels in May.

Fishermen from both Taiwan and China regularly sail the stretch of water near the Kinmen archipelago, which has seen a rise in tensions as the number of Chinese vessels — including sand dredgers and fishing boats — have notably increased in the area.

In February, two Chinese fishermen were drowned while being chased by Taiwan's Coast Guard off the coast of Kinmen, prompting Beijing to step up patrols in the waters.