Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers said the Ministry of National Defense had failed and demanded that Minister of National Defense Feng Shih-kuan (馮世寬) take responsibility following the reportedly mistaken launch of a supersonic anti-ship missile that hit a fishing boat, killing one person.
The Republic of China Navy said that a Hsiung Feng III missile was launched by mistake from a Chinchiang-class patrol boat docked at Kaohsiung’s Zuoying Military Harbor during an exercise.
The missile traveled about 40 nautical miles (74.1km), hitting a Taiwanese fishing boat in waters off Penghu, killing the fishing boat’s captain and injuring three crewmen.
Photo: Liao Chen-huei, Taipei Times
KMT lawmakers said that the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) should have contacted China immediately after the incident to inform Beijing that the missile launch was accidental.
Lawmakers urged President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), who arrived in Los Angeles on Thursday on a one-day stopover on the return leg of her trip to Latin America, to call a national security meeting immediately.
“A national security crisis has occurred, ” KMT Legislator Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) said at a news conference in Taipei, adding that “the accident is not a trivial matter, but one that threatens national security.”
Chiang said that in 2010, then-president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) called an emergency meeting of security officials while on a state visit to Palau after a South Korean naval patrol vessel sank in disputed waters off the Korean Peninsula.
Tsai should likewise call a national security meeting, even though she is in Los Angeles, to initiate measures to prevent the missile issue from escalating.
Although the missile did not pass the median line of the Taiwan Strait, China might mistake it as an act of provocation as it celebrates the Chinese Communist Party’s 95th anniversary, Chiang said.
The council should have explained the situation to China immediately to stabilize cross-strait relations, he said.
KMT Legislator Hsu Yu-jen (許毓仁) said that the council should find out how Chinese media are reporting the incident, adding that if the MAC does not deal with the case swiftly, potential risks might increase if China considers the incident to be provocative.
MAC official Yang Chien-Hui (楊千慧) said that the council had not contacted China because the incident was still being analyzed, adding the council would handle the matter with care.
KMT headquarters also called on the government to probe the incident. The party also expressed its condolences and sympathies to the relatives of those killed or injured.
The People First Party caucus released a statement asking the ministry to punish the person at fault, adding that the top national security officials should improve military discipline and establish a notification principle with China.
The caucus said that top national security officials should establish a crisis hotline to Beijing to help avoid unnecessary military tension.
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