Chinese man’s successful strait crossing exposes Taiwan’s coastguard loophole

Published (HKT): 2021.05.03 19:39

A Chinese man was caught by Taiwanese coastguards after he spent 16 hours crossing the Taiwan Strait from Fujian province in an inflatable boat.

He was arrested at the Taichung Harbor West Wharf for violating the national security law and the Immigration Act, after the authorities received a report of an unknown person lingering in the area.

Surnamed Zhou, the 33-year-old claimed he has travelled from Fujian out of his yearning for freedom. He has been held in detention after a brief body check to ensure he did not have a fever.

Defense minister Chiu Kuo-cheng admitted there are flaws in the coastguard patrols and reporting system as Zhou was only detected after he landed. The Defense Ministry must work with the coastguard to identify the reasons and make improvements, he added.

Zhou’s case has drawn great public attention amid growing cross-strait tensions. Chiu stressed that they must make the most comprehensive preparation for the worst-case scenario.

His success in crossing the border revealed a loophole in Taiwan’s coastal defense, Taiwanese media reported. Though the coastguards are equipped with radar trailers to cover the blind spots of the coastal radar system, the audit office has found that over 10 blind-spot zones remain unsurveyed.

Though the distance between the harbor and Fujian province is around 180 kilometers, given the strong waves around the midline of the Taiwan strait, it is difficult to cross the area with an inflatable boat, a veteran coastguard said. It is possible Zhou boarded a fishing vessel in the mainland before switching to a dinghy, he speculated.

Due to its small size, an inflatable boat might have gone undetected by coastguards and radars, a fisherman added.

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