Wed, Jan 14, 2009 - Page 1 News List

MAC downplays ship uproar

TROUBLED WATERS After a Taiwanese vessel was reportedly escorted through the Gulf of Aden by a Chinese navy ship, the MAC said it was not involved in the matter

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Deputy Minister Chao Chien-min (趙建民) yesterday downplayed an allegation that a Taiwanese vessel asked Chinese warships for protection from pirate attacks in waters off Somalia in the Gulf of Aden.

Chao made the remarks in response to a Chinese-language United Daily News report yesterday that cited China’s Xinhua news agency as saying that Chinese warships began protecting four ships, including the Taiwanese Yu Shan (宇善), on Monday. If confirmed, the Formosa Plastics Group-owned ship would be the first Taiwanese ship under the protection of the Chinese fleet, the report said.

The MAC had previously said it would not request or accept assistance from the Chinese naval fleet.

Chao yesterday denied MAC involvement and said that the Yu Shan was flying a flag of convenience registered in Liberia and was operated by a South Korean firm.

Chao said that while Taiwanese fishing boats could file for Chinese protection through the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF), the government had not authorized the SEF to take up such a task.

Chen said the Yu Shan was not a Taiwanese boat because it was not registered in Taiwan. Whether it applied for protection from China was not an issue, he said.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Kuan Bi-ling (管碧玲) yesterday accused President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration of “going to China for help whenever the Ma administration faces problems.”

DPP caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) said that if Ma allows a Taiwanese ship to be escorted by a Chinese warship, it means he thinks Taiwan and China belong to one county. It is another example of Ma selling out Taiwan and proof that Taiwan’s sovereignty was diminishing under Ma, Ker said.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Shuai Hua-ming (帥化民), a member of the legislature’s Foreign and National Defense Committee, dismissed concerns that Chinese protection of Taiwanese ships constituted an infringement upon Taiwan’s sovereignty.

Shuai described the Chinese move as Chinese “goodwill,” saying that it was better to have goodwill than hostility from China.

When asked for comments on the piracy, the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) said it has discussed with Taiwan the problem of piracy in the Gulf of Aden.

"We refer you to the Taiwan authorities for information about their plans to protect their shipping. Piracy is a global crime. If any vessel is in distress anywhere in the world and requests assistance, the US Navy has a responsibility to render assistance, if feasible," AIT press officer Lawrence Walker said.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY RICH CHANG,FLORA WANG, JENNY W. HSU AND CNA

Also See: Should we join efforts in the Gulf of Aden?

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