The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday would not comment on reports that China was allegedly on the brink of permanently deploying large fisheries patrol vessels near the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台) claimed by Taiwan, Japan and China.
Ministry spokesman James Chang (章計平) said the ministry was not able to comment, as the Mainland Affairs Council was responsible for assessing the authenticity of the information and communications with China.
Chang said the ministry would closely monitor reports on the matter and restated the ministry’s position that all parties should set aside disputes and handle the matter peacefully and rationally.
A diplomatic official told the Taipei Times on condition of anonymity that the deployment was related to Japan’s new defense guidelines, approved by the Diet on Friday, which painted China as a bigger threat than Russia and as a result was shifting its defense from the northern island of Hokkaido to the south, such as Okinawa and territories claimed by both Japan and China.
The Asahi Shimbun reported on Monday that an unnamed “senior Chinese official” at the Ministry of Agriculture’s Bureau of Fisheries had informed it in an exclusive interview on Saturday that China could soon permanently deploy large fisheries patrol vessels in waters near the Diaoyutais.
The deployment, the official said, was part of measures to challenge Japan’s control of the islands off Okinawa Prefecture, over which Japan has de facto control, although sovereignty is contested.
Beijing intends to press its claims over the Diaoyutais and to disclose details of its surveillance activities to other countries, the official said.
In comments that have yet to be confirmed by the Chinese government and could constitute “selective leaking” to assess foreign reactions, the official said the -patrol vessels to be deployed to the area would have a displacement of more than 1,000 tonnes and -maintain continuous patrols near the islands.
Late last month, China deployed the new 2,580 tonne Yuzheng 310 — which is equipped with two helicopters and, at 22 knots, is reportedly the fastest ship in China’s 1,300-vessel fisheries patrol fleet — near the islands. The Yuzheng 310 and Yuzheng 201 were spotted in the area on Nov. 20, the Japan Coast Guard said.
According to the Asahi, China’s fleet at present only comports nine vessels with displacement above 1,000 tonnes.
Beijing reportedly has a five-year plan to build at least five new patrol vessels of more than 3,000-tonne displacement. Until this is achieved, and as China’s current fleet is insufficient to ensure constant surveillance of the Diaoyutais, Beijing will commission private fishing boats to operate as patrol boats in the area in a joint effort by “the government and the private sector,” the paper reported.
“It is a legitimate right to safeguard China’s maritime interests and the country is unlikely to -relax the arrangement in the future,” the official told the Asahi, calling the move “unprecedented” and “epoch-making.”
Besides its claims of ownership over the Diaoyutais, which are located in the East China Sea, China also claims sovereignty over the South China Sea, describing it as a “core national interest” on par with Taiwan and Tibet and key to its “national integrity.”
The announcement comes amid rising regional tensions over disputed waters and a series of collisions involving Chinese fishing vessels. Regional powers, including the US, are increasingly wary of Beijing’s claims over the South China Sea and East China Sea, effectively the entire waters included within the “first island chain” — a line that extends from the Kurile Islands, the main Japanese islands, the Ryukyu Islands, Taiwan, the Philippines and Indonesia.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY SHIH HSIU-CHUAN
‘HIDDEN GEM’: The city earned plaudits for its low crime rate, world-class healthcare system, cheap cost of living and easy public transportation Taipei has been named the 10th best city in the world for quality of living in an annual survey by the editors of Monocle, a UK-based global affairs and lifestyle magazine. The survey, which is to be published in the magazine’s July/August issue, selected the world’s top 25 cities based on factors including cost of living, retail, hospitality, culture and access to green spaces, as well as feedback from Monocle correspondents. Taipei’s 10th place finish was one place down from a year earlier. The survey ranked Copenhagen as the world’s best city, with Zurich, Lisbon, Helsinki and Stockholm rounding out the top five.
GLOBAL STRATEGY: Indo-Pacific alliances need reinforcement to prevent Chinese occupation of Taiwan, which would threaten Japan, Hawaii and Australia, Pompeo said The US should officially recognize Taiwan as a free, independent nation and establish official diplomatic ties, former US secretary of state Mike Pompeo told an event at the Hudson Institute in Washington on Friday. Every US president since Harry Truman has considered Taiwan’s existence to be of utmost importance to US national security, Pompeo said. Taiwan is a principal US partner in technology and economic matters, and if China were to capture Taiwan’s semiconductor supply chain, it would severely hamper the US economy, Pompeo said. Should China occupy Taiwan, it would severely weaken US influence in the Indo-Pacific region and its surrounding areas,
NO COMORBIDITIES: The girl died of encephalitis, the sixth COVID-19-related death of the disease this year and 19th death of a child from the virus, the center said The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday reported 52,213 new domestically transmitted COVID-19 cases and 171 deaths from the virus, including a four-year-old girl, who had been diagnosed with encephalitis, and a 19-year-old man, who had underlying health conditions. “The caseloads are usually higher on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, but they [yesterday] fell 7.3 percent from the day before,” Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥) said. Chuang, who is the CECC’s spokesman, said that most cities and counties reported a drop in new cases, and the CECC expects fewer than 50,000 new cases today. The center said that 150 of
LIMIT: The CECC has capped the number of weekly arrivals to 25,000, which critics said has limited the number of available flights and caused ticket prices to soar The government is not likely to raise the cap on the number of inbound travelers before the end of this month, despite the apparent effect on the number of inbound flights, Minister of Transportation and Communications Wang Kwo-tsai (王國材) said yesterday. The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) on Wednesday last week eased quarantine rules for inbound travelers, who must undergo three days of home quarantine upon arrival and spend another four days in self-initiated disease prevention. It also capped the number of inbound travelers to 25,000 per week. The weekly limit has drawn criticism that it has limited the number of flights