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Seizure of Taiwanese Fishing Boat Could Be Tactic by Beijing: Intelligence ChiefCommunist China’s recent seizure of a Taiwanese fishing boat may have been a geopolitical tactic to put pressure on Taiwan’s government, according to the island’s intelligence chief.

Chinese coast guard vessels boarded and seized a Taiwan fishing ship that was in Chinese waters about 17.5 nautical miles off the Taiwan-controlled offshore islands of Kinmen on July 3. The fishing ship, along with its crew of two Taiwanese nationals and three Indonesian immigrant workers, was subsequently forced to a port in China.
Tsai Ming-yen, director-general of Taiwan’s National Security Bureau, said the real motivation behind the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP’s) seizure of the Taiwanese boat remains to be seen. But he offered some possibilities to reporters in Parliament on July 4 as to what factors may be driving the incident.

“It’s indeed a rather unusual case,” Mr. Tsai said. “There may be follow-up administrative fines in order for communist China to demonstrate its jurisdiction over the Taiwan Strait. It could also use the event to weaken [the Taiwanese] government’s sovereign status or apply pressure on the government.

“We must continue to analyze this, aside from official statements from communist China, whether there is anything relevant, showing this as being a cognitive warfare operation.”

He noted that coverage by China’s state-run media of the incident might also offer clues.

“Then, we will fully assess what the actual motivations are for communist China,” Mr. Tsai said.

Chinese authorities say the Taiwanese boat violated its annual fishing ban. China’s fishing vessels have been causing trouble in other countries, including in conflicts in the Yellow Sea with South Korea, the East China Sea with Japan, and the South China Sea with the Philippines and Vietnam.

Taiwanese officials, including Taiwanese Vice Premier Cheng Li-chiun, have called on Beijing to release the fishing ship and its crew.
White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said at a briefing on July 3 that Washington is “closely monitoring” the incident.

Taiwan Strait

The waters in Kinmen have become a hotspot of cross-strait tensions, especially after an incident in which a Chinese speedboat with four passengers intruded into Taiwan’s restricted waters, prompting a chase by the Taiwanese coast guard administration. The Chinese boat capsized while trying to evade capture, resulting in the death of two passengers.

The Chinese regime blamed Taiwan for the deaths. Shortly after, the CCP’s Taiwan Affairs Office publicly stated that, in China’s view, there were “no prohibited or restricted waters” in the waters between Kinmen and Xiamen. The maritime boundaries have been tacitly adhered to since Taiwan outlined its “Act Governing Relations Between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area” in 1992.
In the act, the island refrained from designating the Taiwan Strait as part of its territorial waters, but outlined “prohibited” waters within three nautical miles of its islands and “restricted” waters within 12 nautical miles. Vessels seeking entry into the zones generally require explicit authorization from Taiwanese authorities.

Kinmen, at its closest point, is about two miles from the Chinese island of Xiamen and about six miles from the Chinese mainland. The island is 116 miles from the main island of Taiwan, which governs it.

The maritime incidents also exacerbate already rising tensions across the strait following the inauguration of Taiwan’s new president, Lai Ching-te, in May. Since then, the CCP has launched what it called “punishment” military drills encircling Taiwan and issued new judicial guidelines threatening to impose the death penalty on “diehard” supporters of Taiwan independence.
The CCP claims Taiwan as a part of its territory and thus claims it has “sovereign rights” over the Taiwan Strait. Beijing’s stance is rejected by the United States and Taiwan, as the pair and their allies see the Strait as being beyond the 12-nautical-mile territorial sea limit of any coastal state and, hence, an international waterway as per the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea.
To fulfill its ambition of seizing Taiwan, the CCP is pursuing both military and nonmilitary means. For instance, communist China’s disinformation campaign against Taiwan, also known as the Republic of China, is part of its cognitive warfare to sway the island’s public opinion.
The Pentagon’s 2023 military report on China states that the ruling CCP and its military wing, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), were researching and developing “the next evolution of psychological warfare” called cognitive domain operations (CDO).
“The goal of CDO is to achieve what the PLA refers to as ‘mind dominance,’ which the PLA defines as the use of information to influence public opinion to affect change in a nation’s social system, likely to create an environment favorable to China and reduce civilian and military resistance to PLA actions,” the report reads.

Infiltration

Mr. Tsai also told Taiwanese lawmakers on July 4 that the Chinese regime had been stepping up its efforts to infiltrate the island. He said his bureau has investigated 84 national security cases related to China during the past year, of which 39 cases have led to prosecution.

“The number of cases has increased significantly compared to years in the past, showing that the CCP’s infiltration activities in Taiwan are becoming increasingly rampant,” he said.

Mr. Tsai said the regime’s infiltration activities can be divided into four categories: intelligence gathering, developing organizations, stealing technology secrets, and influencing elections.

In April, a former Taiwanese businessman in China and his son were each sentenced to eight years in prison in Taiwan for carrying out espionage activities for Chinese intelligence, according to Taiwan’s government-run Central News Agency.

The father and son, surnamed Huang, successfully recruited two air force officers as part of their effort to develop a spy network in Taiwan. Together, they passed some sensitive documents related to Taiwan’s military exercises to Chinese officials.

Chinese authorities paid the Huangs a total of NT$1.71 million (about $52,760) and the two officers NT$310,000 (about $9,500).

The two officers were sentenced to seven and six years in prison after being found guilty of accepting bribes while being public officials.

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