Wed, Jun 10, 2015 - Page 1 News List

Chinese ships back on offshore project

SHIPSHAPE?Two ships blocked from national waters skipped a mandatory review to ‘sneak’ onto an offshore wind farm, a Democratic Progressive Party legislator said

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

Marine and Port Bureau officials have been accused of flouting decisions made by the Legislative Yuan and undermining national security for allegedly trying to “sneak in” Chinese engineering ships for a second time to work on an offshore wind-farm project later this month.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Kuan Bi-ling (管碧玲) on Monday said that she has evidence showing that the bureau — part of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications — colluded with Chinese authorities by approving the Huadian 1001 platform vessel and Hai Gang No. 36 tug for operation in the Taiwan Strait, offshore of Changhua County.

The approval happened on Thursday last week, she said.

“Marine and Port Bureau officials did this by ordering the ships’ application papers to be ‘classified information’ that would not be declassified for 10 years,” Kuan said.

“This is just absurd. The application and approval was overseen by high-ranking government officials. It was a ‘black-box’ operation; there was no transparency whatsoever,” she said. “We denied [the ships] access to Taiwan’s waters last year, but now they are trying for the second time — with concealment, in secrecy.”

In September last year, Kuan blocked the two ships from entering the nation’s territorial waters to work on a wind-farm project in the Taiwan Strait after discovering that the vessels have Chinese registrations.

The ships, which tow other vessels and offshore platforms, typically dock at harbors in China’s Jiangsu Province.

At the time, she voiced concern that Chinese vessels could carry out surveillance, gather data on Taiwan’s coastline and offshore oceanography, as well as obtain intelligence on commercial fishing port and naval base facilities.

According to Kuan, when discussing the matter last year, National Security Bureau Director-General Lee Shying-jow (李翔宙) and then-minister of defense Yen Ming (嚴明) expressed reservations about the Chinese vessels, which they said posed national security risks.

Lee and Yen at the time agreed with Kuan that military and national security agencies must conduct a thorough investigation and review of any Chinese ships working in Taiwan’s territorial waters before an application could be approved.

The legislature in January resolved that for such cases, the National Security Bureau and the Ministry of Defense must convene a special task force of experts to assess and examine applications, which can be approved only after receiving authorization for clearance on risks to national security.

“This was not done at all. Officials gave orders that the application documents become classified materials. It was done to hide them from scrutiny by the National Security Bureau and the requirements of the legislature’s resolution,” Kuan said on Monday.

Kuan said that according to information she obtained, the two vessels are scheduled to start the project later this month by towing a wind-farm platform near the median line of the Taiwan Strait, and — to circumvent regulations for reporting to the Marine and Port Bureau — work solely offshore of Changhua County and not enter a harbor in Taiwan.

Minister of Economic Affairs John Deng (鄧振中) said the ministry would double-check the procedure and supply the needed authorization papers for clearance on risks to national security.

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