LinkedIn tracking pixel

The offshore islands and Taiwan’s future

Over the past year, scores of gargantuan Chinese sand dredgers have deployed themselves in territorial waters off the Taiwanese-administered Matsu Islands, where their activities erode beaches and ruin fishing shoals. These Chinese ships are mercenary; a small 5,000 ton ship could sell a load of sand for the equivalent of US$55,000 to Fujian construction firms — or to the People’s Liberation Army for use in building its artificial reefs in the South China Sea. They also frustrate Taiwan’s government, which tries unsuccessfully to cooperate with Beijing on environmental stewardship of their contiguous waters. Each day, Taiwanese Coast Guard vessels can nudge perhaps two Chinese ships from Matsu’s waters. One day last year, a Matsu coast guardsman told the Reuters news agency and the Financial Times, hundreds of the massive sand dredgers infringed Matsu’s waters, but the Taiwan coast guard was only able to impound two of them. For all of 2020, nearly 4,000 Chinese dredgers were identified in Matsu’s waters, but only a few hundred were confronted.

Read more at Taipei Times