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Taiwan Demands Release Of Trawler Seized By China


Incident Details

China’s recent seizure of a Taiwanese trawler near the Chinese coast is being viewed as a possible act of psychological warfare aimed at increasing pressure on Taipei. Officials in Taiwan are actively working to secure the boat’s release. The trawler, which was fishing for squid near the Taiwan-controlled Kinmen islands, was taken by Chinese authorities late Tuesday. China claims the boat violated a summer fishing ban and engaged in illegal trawling operations.

Growing Tensions Across the Taiwan Strait

The incident occurs amid escalating tensions across the Taiwan Strait. China considers Taiwan a part of its territory and has intensified pressure on Taipei since President Lai Ching-te, who Beijing labels a “separatist,” took office in May. Mainland Affairs Council Minister Chiu Chui-cheng expressed the government’s commitment to securing the release of the boat and its fishermen, communicating with China via Taiwan’s semi-official Straits Exchange Foundation. Chiu also called on Beijing to show goodwill and cease its pressure tactics.

Potential Motivations Behind the Seizure

Taiwan’s National Security Bureau Director-General Tsai Ming-yen noted the unusual nature of Chinese officials boarding and detaining a Taiwanese trawler. He acknowledged China’s claim of illegal fishing but suggested that the action might also be intended to assert China’s jurisdiction over the strait and pressure Taiwan’s government. “We must continue to analyse whether this is a cognitive warfare operation and fully assess the motivations behind the Chinese communists,” Tsai said.

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Historical Context and Legal Disputes

China has previously seized Taiwanese trawlers for illegal fishing, typically releasing them after fines were paid. The Chinese Taiwan Affairs Office described the recent seizure as “normal law enforcement” to protect fishery resources and the environment. The office stated that the relevant departments would handle the situation according to law and regulations. Three of the five fishermen on board the seized trawler are Indonesian nationals.

The sovereignty dispute over the Taiwan Strait remains a contentious issue. China claims sovereignty over the strait, while Taiwan and the United States assert that it is an international waterway. For the past four years, Taiwan has reported increased “grey zone” activities by China, which aim to wear down Taiwan through actions that stop short of outright conflict, such as flying balloons over Taiwan.

With Inputs from Reuters