The Coast Guard Administration (CGA) yesterday was criticized by legislators as being incapable of dealing with Chinese vessels illegally operating in Taiwanese waters following an incident over the weekend in which a Chinese fishing boat attempted to flee with Taiwanese coast guard officers on board.
Five coast guard officers boarded the Chinese vessel on Saturday afternoon for an inspection, but failed to stop the boat because they did not know how to turn off the autopilot and take control of the vessel. The boat was intercepted by CGA vessels on Saturday evening and docked at Keelung Harbor on Sunday morning under escort.
Nine Chinese fishermen are in custody and their boat has been impounded.
Coast Guard Administration Minister Wang Ginn-wang (王進旺) was criticized by lawmakers at a meeting of the legislature’s Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee in Taipei.
Lawmakers expressed concern over the law enforcement expertise of CGA personnel.
“The CGA boasts a strong combat capability, but when faced with Chinese fishermen who refused to stop their boat and who refused to be brought back to Taiwan, five CGA officers instead were ‘detained’ by the Chinese and carried away by boat,” Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) said.
In response, Wang said the officers were not “detained” nor “kidnapped” by the Chinese fishermen because they had the fishermen under control. However, he did admit that the CGA were at fault for failing to find out the boat’s automatic navigation system and stop the engine.
“We will strengthen our personnel training,” Wang said, adding that the CGA would improve its inspection techniques.
Last year, the CGA punished 989 Chinese fishing boats that made unauthorized entry into Taiwanese waters and collected more than NT$50 million (US$1,660,000) in fines, Wang said.
Additional reporting by CNA