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Former Chinese navy captain arrested in Taiwan after illegal approach

IANS | June 11, 2024 03:20 PM

TAIPEI: A Chinese man detained by Taiwan after illegally entering a harbour near Taipei on a speedboat has been identified as a former Chinese navy captain, senior officials said on Tuesday.

On Sunday, the Chinese man drove a speedboat directly into the Tamsui River estuary, telling Taiwan's Coast Guard Administration (CGA) officers of his intention to surrender. The intruder was arrested and transferred to prosecutors for questioning.

The Chinese speedboat was detected about six nautical miles from the estuary of the Tamsui River, which leads into Taiwan's capital, Taipei.

Kuan Bi-ling, Minister of Taiwan's Ocean Affairs Council, which supervises the Coast Guard, told reporters on the sidelines of a legislative meeting that the detained Chinese man had previously served as a navy captain.

Kuan said that it remains uncertain whether the Chinese detainee truly wanted to seek freedom or if the approach was an attempt by China to test Taiwan's maritime defences.

"It cannot be ruled out that this is a kind of test, " Kuan said, referring to about 18 similar cases in the past year.

However, Kuan said that this time, the detained Chinese individual appeared "quite refined and well-presented, " unlike those involved in other cases.

Taiwan's state-run Central News Agency reported on Monday that the Chinese man is approximately 60 years old and surnamed Ruan. He reportedly piloted a speedboat from a fishing port in China's southern Fujian Province, over 200 kilometres away, directly into the mouth of the Tamsui River.

Taiwan's Defense Minister Wellington Koo noted on Tuesday that the mouth of the Tamsui River is a key deployment area during wartime. During peacetime, the site is jointly guarded by both the Coast Guard and the military, but Koo said that it cannot be ruled out that China is using grey zone tactics to test Taiwan's limits.

China regards Taiwan as part of the People's Republic. The island, with around 24 million inhabitants, has had an independent government since 1949.

Tensions across the Taiwan Strait have risen since President Lai Ching-te's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won the presidential elections in January.

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