President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday lauded the Coast Guard Administration (CGA) and the Ministry of National Defense for escorting Taiwanese fishermen to the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台) on Tuesday, calling the move a declaration of Taiwan’s sovereignty over the islands.
“Under the escort of coast guard vessels, our fishermen sailed close to the Diaoyutais. Taiwanese fishermen declared to the world that the Diaoyutais are part of the territory of the Republic of China [ROC], and have been occupied by Japan for 117 years,” he said at a luncheon with members of the Combined Logistics Command.
To assert the nation’s sovereignty over the islands, 75 Taiwanese vessels sailed near the Diaoyutais early on Tuesday, escorted by 10 CGA ships. When Japanese patrol boats sprayed the Taiwanese fishing boats with water to drive them away, Taiwanese coast guard vessels retaliated with their own water cannons, resulting in a tense standoff.
Given the rough sea conditions, the Taiwanese boats started returning to the fishing port of Nanfangao (南方澳) in Yilan County several hours later, with CGA vessels remaining about 7km from the Diaoyutais to see that all fishing boats left the area safely.
Ma yesterday said the coast guard played a crucial role in safeguarding the safety of Taiwanese fishermen and said he had called CGA head Wang Jinn-wang (王進旺) to convey his gratitude for the agency’s assistance.
“We will not put our military on the front line, but they will be well-prepared to take full control of the situation in the Diaoyutais,” he said.
Ma said the island chain has been the fishing grounds of Taiwanese fishermen for decades and the government fully supports fishermen’s move to protect their right to fish in those waters.
In related news, the CGA dismissed a media report that national security authorities had negotiated beforehand with Japan and China, asking Japan not to be too provocative toward the Taiwanese boats and for China not to send ships to the area.
The negotiation was to “ensure that everything followed the script,” the Chinese-language China Times quoted an unnamed senior official as saying.
Lee Mao-jung (李茂榮), deputy director of the CGA’s Maritime Patrol Directorate-General, who led the CGA flotilla that escorted the protest, said it was impossible to simulate the confrontation, which included several dangerous actions such as the firing of water cannons and the release of smoke.
CGA Deputy Minister Cheng Chang-Hsiung (鄭樟雄) said the agency did inform Japanese authorities of the fishermen’s protest in advance and asked them not to interfere or to judge the situation wrongly.
They were told that “we will have countermeasures to any action they take,” Cheng said.
Additional reporting by CNA
TENSE SITUATION: If the storm does not bring rain, Taiwan might have to wait until next month amid water scarcity in the center and south, an expert said Typhoon Surigae is to bring rain to the nation’s east coast and mountainous areas in central and southern Taiwan from Wednesday to Friday, the Central Weather Bureau (CWB) said yesterday. As of 2pm yesterday, the typhoon’s center was 1,170km southeast of Oluanpi (鵝鑾鼻), Taiwan’s southernmost tip. The radius of the storm was 280km, and it was moving northwest at 9kph, with a maximum wind speed of 198kph. The bureau forecasts that the storm would switch to a northerly direction when approaching the east coast of Luzon Island in the Philippines on Wednesday, CWB forecaster Lin Ding-yi (林定宜) said, adding that Surigae would
INTERNATIONAL WEED DAY: Advocates are to hold a demonstration to push for the decriminalization of marijuana and allowing its use for treatment of certain conditions It is time for Taiwanese society to examine the medical benefits of cannabis, in line with the international trend to lift restrictions on and decriminalize the use of marijuana, two legislators said yesterday, ahead of tomorrow’s “Rally for Equal Rights for Cannabis” in Taipei. Taiwan is one of a few countries holding a “420 International Weed Day” event — which usually takes place around the April 20 weekend — as most nations have canceled it this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, said organizer Green Sensation, which is composed of doctors, lawyers and entertainers, among others. The group released a
SEEKING CLARITY: Some members of the US delegation asked KMT legislators in a meeting to address their party’s position on the so-called ‘1992 consensus,’ sources said A US delegation tasked by US President Joe Biden to reaffirm the country’s commitment to its partnership with Taiwan yesterday wrapped up a three-day visit to Taipei. Former US senator Chris Dodd, former US deputy secretaries of state Richard Armitage and James Steinberg, and US Department of State Office of Taiwan Coordination Director Dan Biers departed at 11:20am on a private jet. The members of the delegation, all friends of Biden, arrived on Wednesday and met with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) and other government officials. During the three-day visit, the delegation also met with six members of the Legislative
‘AN EXCUSE’: The intent of Beijing’s incursions was ‘intimidation and coercion,’ a senior US official said, adding that China was using the US to justify its actions Chinese carrier drills and stepped-up incursions into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone in the past few weeks are meant to send a message to Washington to stand down and back off, security sources in Taipei said. The increased activity — which China, unusually, described as “combat drills” on Wednesday — has raised alarm in both Taipei and Washington, although security officials do not see it as a sign of an imminent attack. Rather, at least some of the exercises are practicing “access denial” maneuvers to prevent foreign forces from coming to Taipei’s defense in a war, one official familiar with Taiwan’s security