Two Chinese fishermen drown during pursuit by Taiwan coast guard

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Two Chinese fishermen have drowned during a pursuit by Taiwan’s coast guard for trespassing off the coast of Taiwan’s Kinmen islands.

According to the coast guard, an unnamed mainland Chinese vessel had trespassed within about one nautical mile off the coast of Kinmen – which lies nearer to mainland China than to Taiwan.

The vessel capsized while attempting to flee, causing four crew members aboard to fall into the water, it said.

“The coast patrol boat rescued two crew members and found another two unconscious crew members in the sea,” the coast guard said in a statement Wednesday, adding that the two unconscious members were confirmed dead after being taken to the hospital.

The Kinmen archipelago lies nearer to mainland China than to the rest of Taiwan.

China’s Taiwan Affairs Office strongly condemned the deaths and urged the Taiwan authorities to conduct a full investigation.

The Chinese Communist Party regards Taiwan, a self-governing democracy, as part of its territory, despite never having ruled it, and vessels from mainland China are frequently active in the waters near Kinmen due to its geographical proximity.

China’s Taiwan Affairs Office said in its statement about the fishermen’s deaths that “such a vicious incident seriously hurt the feelings of compatriots on both sides of the Taiwan Strait during the Spring Festival,” also known as the Lunar New Year holiday, celebrated by both mainland China and Taiwan.

It also accused Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party of being the main reason for the incident, claiming it had used “various excuses to forcefully seize mainland fishing boats and treat mainland fishermen roughly and dangerously.”

According to Taiwan’s coast guard, the case is being investigated and the two rescued crew members have been brought to Kinmen.

The coast guard said they would contact the fishermen’s families through official channels.

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