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DPP lies about fishermen's deaths

By FU KIN-CHIN | China Daily | Updated: 2024-03-02 10:26

A view of Taipei, China's Taiwan region. [Photo/VCG]

The high-handed behavior of Taiwan maritime officials who chased a fishing vessel from Fujian province in the waters off Kinmen island in the Taiwan Strait on Feb 14 resulted in all four fishermen falling overboard and two of them drowning, raising serious concerns across the Strait.

The ruling Democratic Progressive Party authorities in Taiwan have been treating Chinese mainland fishermen in a brutal and dangerous manner for a long time. The deaths of the two mainland fishermen can be attributed, apart from the Taiwan maritime officials' high-handedness, to the DPP's refusal to acknowledge the 1992 Consensus that there is only one China, and stirring up Taiwan residents' emotions against Beijing.

In order to cover up the Taiwan maritime officials' criminal act, the DPP authorities have been telling a host of lies.

The first lie is that the mainland fishermen "crossed the line". The Taiwan authorities have falsely claimed that "on the day of the incident", Taiwan's "mainland affairs council" and maritime patrol department accused the mainland fishing vessel of "crossing the line" into Taiwan's "prohibited and restricted waters". The truth is that Taiwan is an inalienable part of China, and both sides of the Taiwan Strait are part of one China. People from both sides of the Strait have been fishing in the traditional Xiamen-Kinmen fishing grounds since ancient times, and there is no such thing as "prohibited and restricted waters".

The second lie is that the mainland fishing boat "accidentally capsized", as the island's maritime patrol department initially insisted. But after the mainland survivors returned home on Feb 20 afternoon, the Taiwan authorities changed their version of the incident, admitting that the fishing boat capsized due to repeated ramming by a Taiwan maritime department vessel. Therefore, the Taiwan maritime officials are to blame for the fishermen's death.

The third lie is the island authorities' claim that "there is no video" of the Taiwan "law enforcement" officials' actions, because under Taiwan's law, it is mandatory to record the maritime patrol department's "law enforcement" actions. That the person in charge of the island's "oceanic commission" first refused to release the video on the grounds that the "investigation was not open" but later claimed the law-enforcement process "could not be video-recorded or audio-recorded" suggests he was lying.

Taiwan residents, too, according to online sources, say it is unlikely that there is no video of the "law enforcement" process and more likely that the Taiwan authorities don't want to release it because they want to cover up the Taiwan maritime officials' illegal actions.

A number of experts on Taiwan have said the incident is the consequence of the DPP authorities' refusal to acknowledge the 1992 Consensus and their hostile attitude toward Beijing, which was evident in the Taiwan authorities' attempt to shift the blame for the incident on the mainland without as much as mourning the deaths of the two fishermen.

Based on the principle of "one family across the Taiwan Strait", the mainland handled the incident pragmatically, which resonated with the common concern of compatriots on both sides of the Strait. On the other hand, the DPP authorities made up the concept of "prohibited and restricted waters" in an attempt to conceal the truth and mislead the public. The DPP authorities not only failed to properly resolve the issue, but also used it to intensify cross-Strait tensions and worsen cross-Strait relations in order to achieve their political agenda of splitting Taiwan from the motherland.

The mainland has been providing help for Taiwan fishermen for decades, having established reception centers for them and anchorage points for fishing boats in the 1970s. Through painstaking efforts, the mainland has been promoting cross-Strait integration and development and has made sincere efforts to meet the needs of Taiwan compatriots. Fujian and other southeast coastal provinces welcome Taiwan fishermen to fish in nearby waters, provide them with shelter in times of need, especially during extreme weather events, in stark contrast to the approach adopted by the DPP authorities.

After the incident, the mainland strengthened its maritime security arrangements so it can carry out regular law enforcement inspections in the Xiamen-Kinmen waters. The measures the mainland has taken, including regularizing law enforcement patrols, are necessary.

The decision of the mainland to strengthen law enforcement inspections in key maritime areas is a normal act of exercising sovereignty, and is legitimate according to both international and domestic law. The mainland has grasped the strategic initiative in the development of cross-Strait relations, making clear the mainland's jurisdiction in areas such as the Xiamen-Kinmen Sea, which was necessary to expediting the process of national reunification.

The Taiwan authorities, on their part, must conduct a thorough investigation into the incident in accordance with law and hold the officials involved accountable for their actions, so as to do justice to the deceased and strengthen the rule of law.

The author is a law professor, director of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies, and vice-president of the Hong Kong Basic Law Education Association.

The views don't necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

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