China Seizes Taiwanese Fishing Boat As Tensions Rise

A spokesman for China’s Coast Guard, Liu Dejun, said the seized boat had broken a fishing moratorium in Chinese waters that China declared in May and had been using an illegal fine-meshed net. During the seizure of the boat, Mr. Liu said in a statement, the Taiwanese Coast Guard vessels “tried to meddle in our normal law enforcement” and were driven away.

Hsieh Ching-chin, a spokesman for Taiwan’s Coast Guard Administration, said at a news conference on Wednesday that the Ta Chin Man 88 had entered Chinese territorial waters. He called for China to release the boat and crew, saying that they should not become pawns in the tensions between China and Taiwan. China has seized 17 Taiwanese fishing boats since 2003 and the last such incident was in 2007, Mr. Hsieh said. In recent months, Chinese officials and media have warned fishing boats not to violate the fishing ban, which lasts until mid-August.

“This year, China is different from the past, with stronger law enforcement during the fishing moratorium,” Mr. Hsieh said. “China should not use political factors to deal with this incident.”

Still, the seizure could become another irritant between Taiwan and Beijing, especially if the boat’s crew members are held in China for weeks or longer. The Chinese government vehemently dislikes Mr. Lai, who took office in May and bluntly rejects Beijing’s claims of sovereignty. In the months before and after his inauguration, China stepped up efforts intended to warn and intimidate him and his Democratic Progressive Party.

“They want to demonstrate to Taiwan that it does not have control over air space and sea space. They certainly seem to be ratcheting up pressure,” said Bonnie S. Glaser, the director of the Asia Program at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, referring to China’s recent actions. “I think they want to signal to Lai that he is very close to their red lines and he had better not cross them.”

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