Mon, Aug 15, 2005 - Page 3 News List

Chinese intrusions near Matsu on the rise

STAFF WRITER

Taiwanese fishermen's rights and national security have been jeopardized by Chinese fishing vessels, which have recently been intruding into waters of Matsu (馬祖) more often than ever, according to members of a fishing association there yesterday.

The association told the Liberty Times, the Taipei Times' sister newspaper, that some of its members had become upset with the Chinese fishermen, who not only intruded into Taiwan's waters to fish but also went ashore to rest.

Chen Jui-chang (陳瑞昌) of the association told the Liberty Times that the phenomenon had existed for a long time but that the situation had gotten worse than ever because of the Coast Guard Administration's (CGA) lax management.

"Recently, waters off Matsu have become like wide-open doors, through which Chinese fishing vessels can come and go freely," Chen said.

For example, on Aug. 6, several Chinese vessels were only 10m away from the port of Niuchiao Auko (牛角澳口). The behavior obviously violates Taiwan's laws, which entitle the coast guard to patrol waters as far as 6km from the coast to keep Chinese vessels out of the area.

Chen said the association members spent two months getting footage of intrusions by Chinese fishing vessels in waters off Matsu and produced a video to spotlight the serious problem.

Chen said that some Chinese fishing vessels caught by the CGA were released after bribing officials with high-quality fish. Meanwhile, some local government officials admitted that Chinese fishing vessels had intruded into the Matsu area not only to fish, but also to engage in smuggling.

Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) officials told the Times yesterday that the Chinese government had refused to negotiate with Taiwan on the issue. However, Taiwan will not give up trying to communicate with Beijing in the spirit of mutual benefit and friendly cooperation.

MAC officials stressed that more manpower and resources would be invested soon to crack down on smuggling from China.

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