Sun, Feb 04, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Council states plan to close loopholes in maritime law

By Lee Hsin-fang and Jonathan Chin  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

The Mainland Affairs Council has proposed giving maritime law enforcement agents broader powers to seize Chinese ships suspected of illegal activities.

The amendments — which are awaiting Executive Yuan approval — were drafted to close loopholes in the enforcement rules for the Act Governing Relations Between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area (臺灣地區與大陸地區人民關係條例), the council said.

Although the coast guard has the authority to seize Chinese ships and cargo and arrest their crew, the council said that past incidents suggest that they lack the authority to deal with certain suspicious or illegal activities.

Those activities include, but are not limited to, Chinese vessels that refuse to be boarded for inspection, trespassed in restricted or forbidden maritime zones, engaged in illegal fishing, or obfuscated their flag markings and name, the council said.

The amendments would empower the authorities to confiscate Chinese ships that have repeatedly committed these offenses, including their cargo, the council said.

The amended rules would also treat all ships and boats that are owned, rented, managed, operated, captained or piloted by Chinese as “Chinese vessels” to address the issue of ships that enter restricted or forbidden zones under another flag, the council said.

Those changes were prompted by increasingly common incidents in which Chinese vessels have endangered national security or poached the nation’s maritime resources by exploiting loopholes, the council said.

The amendments are in particular to address the omission of procedures to deal with Chinese vessels that obfuscated identification markings or are flying false flags, the council said.

An incident in 2008, when a Chinese fishing boat deployed a removable ship plaque to pass as a Taiwanese boat, has illustrated the urgent need to close the loophole, the council said.

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