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Taiwan, China Joint Op: Search for 2 Missing Fishermen

Taipei: Taiwan and China embark on a joint search-and-rescue mission for two missing crew members after a Chinese fishing boat capsized near an outlying Taiwanese island, as confirmed by Taipei's coast guard. The coast guard swiftly dispatched four patrol vessels upon receiving a distress call around 6 am Thursday (2200 GMT Wednesday) reporting the sinking of a boat carrying six individuals, located 1.07 nautical miles southwest of Dongding islet in the Kinmen Islands.

This collaborative operation, involving six Chinese rescue ships, follows a tragic incident a month prior, when a Taiwanese coast guard operation resulted in the deaths of two individuals, heightening tensions between Taipei and Beijing.

The coast guard statement indicates that, with the combined efforts of both sides' search-and-rescue units and the assistance of Dongding Garrison, two crew members were successfully rescued, while the remaining two showed no signs of life.

Kinmen, a territory under Taipei's administration, is situated merely five kilometers (three miles) from the Chinese city of Xiamen. Notably, on February 14, another incident occurred where a Chinese vessel, carrying four crew members, capsized near Kinmen during a pursuit by the Taiwanese coast guard, resulting in fatalities and the temporary detention of survivors.

While a survivor alleged that the boat was "rammed," Taiwan contends that its coast guard was following legitimate procedures as the vessel had entered "prohibited waters." Beijing has accused Taiwan of evasion and concealing the truth about the incident, whereas a Taiwanese coast guard official maintains that the boat capsized while attempting to evade a patrol vessel, having lost its balance during zigzag maneuvers.

Since the February 14 occurrence, Taiwan's coast guard chief notes an increase in the presence of Chinese vessels in the waters around Kinmen. This ongoing situation underscores the complex maritime dynamics and diplomatic tensions between Taiwan and China.

March 14, 2024 4:06 p.m. 17658

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