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Home The News News Security stepped up after incursion: Cho

Security stepped up after incursion: Cho

Taiwan has stepped up national security measures, Premier Cho Jung-tai (卓榮泰) said yesterday, after a former Chinese navy captain was arrested for illegally entering the nation on a motorboat.

“National security cannot be neglected for a minute,” he said, adding that security units had been instructed to “immediately strengthen protective measures.”

Coast guard personnel arrested the man, surnamed Ruan (阮), on Sunday after his boat collided with other vessels at a ferry terminal on the Tamsui River (淡水河) in the north. Before that, he reportedly sailed the vessel into a harbor near the mouth of the river.

An illustration shows the path of a Chinese speedboat that illegally entered Taiwan on Sunday starting with where it was first spotted by Taiwanese coast guard (the first dot on the left), then as it moved closer to the mouth of the Tamsui River (the dot in the center), and where it collided with other vessels at a Tamsui ferry terminal.

Illustration: Wu Jen-chieh, Taipei Times

Ruan is a retired member of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy who had served as a captain, Ocean Affairs Council Minister Kuan Bi-ling (管碧玲) said yesterday.

Ruan was reported to have said he wanted to defect to Taiwan after having made anti-Chinese government comments on messaging apps.

However, Ruan looks different from previous “defectors” from China, Kuan said.

Coast Guard Administration Director-General Chang Chung-lung speaks at a press conference in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: CNA

“In the past, Chinese defectors looked like they were hastily recruited by the Chinese government to carry out the task. However, [Ruan] looks more polite and was dressed more decently,” she said, adding that national security officials would investigate.

“Judging by the 18 cases involving Chinese [attempting to enter Taiwan illegally] in the past year, we do not rule out that it is a test that Beijing is conducting, because they all said they came to Taiwan to pursue a life of freedom,” she said.

Minister of National Defense Wellington Koo (顧立雄) said he met with the Coast Guard Administration (CGA) yesterday, as the boat had been allowed to gain access to one of the nation’s harbors.

“The defense of Tamsui River estuary would be key when deploying troops during wartime. However, during peacetime the coast guard and military work together to protect our territorial waters. The coast guard uses its inter-shore radar system to regulate marine activities, and the military serves as backup,” Koo said.

Asked whether the incident was part of China’s “gray zone” tactics aimed at testing the limits of the government, Koo said the ministry has not ruled that out.

“We have already included gray zone warfare in our annual table-top exercises. We need to ascertain whether this incident is part of China’s persistent gray zone tactics and stay on high alert for such a possibility. We will also study how to handle the unauthorized entry of a single Chinese vessel,” he said.

The CGA yesterday told a news conference that coast guard personnel had made mistakes that enabled the Chinese motorboat to cruise all the way to the harbor.

“The radar system operator had locked on to the Chinese speedboat 6 nautical miles [11km] off the coast of Tamsui District (淡水), but they mistakenly thought the boat was a Taiwanese fishing vessel returning to harbor,” the CGA said.

“Even though the operator notified the second fishing port in Tamsui and the CGA security inspection station in New Taipei City’s Bali District (八里), they did not ask a coast guard patrol boat to inspect the Chinese boat,” it said.

“The security inspection station in Bali also failed to immediately notify patrolling coast guard personnel to search and stop the boat after it verified that the boat was not a Taiwanese fishing boat,” the CGA said, adding that the personnel at fault would be held accountable.

To prevent radar system operators making errors, the CGA said it is considering using the radar system in conjunction with an inter-shore intelligent monitoring system, which uses an infrared thermal imaging camera.

It said that it would gradually increase the use of drones to help it inspect vessels and encourage Taiwanese fishing boats to install an automatic identification system.

Coast guard personnel would be better trained to coordinate with the military, the CGA added.

Additional reporting by AFP

Source: Taipei Times - 2024/06/12

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