2 fishermen return to mainland China after Taiwanese coastguard pursuit turns deadly

A 10-member mainland delegation headed by Li Zhaohui, deputy director of the Taiwan Affairs Office in Quanzhou, arrived in Quemoy on Tuesday to retrieve the men and was greeted by a group of Taiwanese officials.


Two mainland Chinese fishermen drown after Taiwan coastguard pursuit

Two mainland Chinese fishermen drown after Taiwan coastguard pursuit

Li said the delegation intended to find out what exactly had caused the fatal incident, which has fuelled cross-strait tensions.

The group – which included six bereaved family members, a lawyer, and two Red Cross officials – headed directly to a funeral parlour where the deceased were placed, according to Taiwan’s coastguard administration.

In video clips posted by Taiwanese media outlets on Tuesday, Li slammed the Taiwanese coastguard for what he said was “rough dispersal of the fishing boat” leading to the deaths of two of the crew.

Bereaved family members from mainland China pay respects to two fishermen who drowned after their boat capsized during a pursuit by a Taiwanese coastguard vessel last week. Photo: CNA

“Such a malicious incident has sparked indignations from various sectors in China and seriously hurt the feelings of compatriots across the strait,” he said, referring to the Taiwan Strait.

“We are here to find out the truth, assist the families with the aftermath affairs and bring home the two survivors.”

He demanded that the island’s authorities address the concerns of the families and provide help to “avoid hurting the families further”.

Li Zhaohui, deputy director of the local level Taiwan Affairs Office in Fujian province, condemned the Taiwanese coastguard for its “rough dispersal” of a mainland fishing boat that had been accused of trespassing. Photo: CNA
The incident began when the island’s coastguard started pursuing the mainland boat which it said had been trespassing in waters off Quemoy – a Taiwanese defence outpost just a few nautical miles from the mainland city of Xiamen.

The coastguard said the fishing boat’s crew refused to allow an inspection and the vessel – a speedboat used for fishing – flipped over as it sped away.

The four men were rushed to hospital after they were pulled from the water. Two of the men died while the other two were in stable condition and were later sent to the Quemoy prosecutor’s office for investigation.

Tsai Mao-cheng, director of the coastguard’s Kinmen, Matsu and Penghu branch, said Taiwanese authorities would offer whatever help the families needed.

“What the relatives most want now is to see the deceased for post-mortem arrangements,” Tsai said when asked if the Taiwanese side would release evidence of how the pursuit turned fatal.

Tsai declined to say if they would discuss the compensation issue.

The relatives later held ritual ceremonies for the deceased before cremating their bodies. They were scheduled to stay overnight and take their remains home on Wednesday morning, according to the coastguard.

Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council, which charts cross-strait policy, said authorities on Tuesday “arranged for the two survivors to be deported in line with the law”, and asked the mainland side to “provide help to facilitate their return home”.

Beijing regards self-ruled Taiwan as part of its territory, to be reunited by force if necessary. It has suspended official exchanges with the island since Tsai Ing-wen, of the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party, was elected president in 2016 and refused to accept the one-China principle.

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Most countries – including the United States, Taipei’s informal ally and top arms supplier – do not recognise Taiwan as an independent state but are opposed to any attempt to forcibly change the status quo.

On Sunday, Beijing announced that its coastguard would begin regular patrols and inspections around Quemoy, adding that there were no restricted waters around the archipelagos.

On Monday, six mainland coastguard officers boarded a Taiwanese tourist boat carrying 11 crew members and 23 passengers to check the vessel’s route plan, certificate and crew licences, prompting the island’s coastguard to send its own vessels to patrol around the waters and escort the tourist boat back to Quemoy.

Taiwanese Defence Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng said on Tuesday that to avoid a further rise in tensions, the military would not “actively intervene” in the incident.

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