Mainland Chinese man’s entry to Taiwan waters via dinghy highlights naval weakness: expert

Published (HKT): 2021.05.04 21:10

A mainland Chinese man’s reported entry into Taiwan waters using an inflatable boat late last month has highlighted loopholes in the self-ruled island’s defense lines in the Taiwan Strait, according to a military expert.

The comments made by Zheng Jiwen, chief editor of Taiwan’s Asia-Pacific Defense journal, came after the man claimed he succeeded in crossing the highly militarized Taiwan Strait on April 30 using a rubber dinghy he had purchased from Chinese e-commerce platform Taobao.

The 33-year-old man surnamed Zhou reportedly took 16 hours to sneak across the 110-mile-wide (177 kilometers) strait to a port in Taichung from Shishi county in Fujian, the closest mainland Chinese province to Taiwan. He was later arrested at the Taichung Harbor West Wharf on April 30.

Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense spokesperson Shih Shun-wen admitted that its naval radars were limited in range, and a review would be conducted to avoid similar cases from occurring.

The incident was incredible and that man was “too lucky,” said Zheng, adding that Zhou’s entry highlighted that if the Chinese People’s Liberation Army deployed dinghies for rapid penetration, it was “almost impossible” for the island to defend itself.

The Taiwanese government should undergo careful planning to ensure national security, Zheng said.

Since an inflatable boat was small and not usually equipped with radar, it could easily evade detection, Zheng told Apple Daily Taiwan, pointing out that special operations forces of other countries were also using dinghies for infiltration.

He also recommended the Taiwan navy and the Coast Guard Administration use thermal imaging cameras for better detection in treacherous waters.

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