East Asia

Taiwan coast guard ramps up island patrols ahead of inauguration

KINMEN: Taipei’s coast guard ramped up patrols over the weekend around its outlying islands that have seen increased presence of Chinese vessels, the agency said Sunday (May 19), the eve of Lai Ching-te’s inauguration as Taiwan’s new president.

China claims Taiwan as part of its territory, maintaining a near-daily military presence with frequent appearances of fighter jets, drones and naval ships around the island.

It has also in recent months sent in Chinese coast guard ships around Kinmen, an outlying island administered by Taipei located just 5km from the Chinese city of Xiamen.

Taipei’s Coast Guard Administration said on Sunday they have sent out personnel to “patrol all hours of the day and night” around Taiwan’s three major outlying islands: Kinmen, Matsu and Penghu.

“In order to ensure the security of the sea area and border safety during the inauguration ceremony, the Ocean Affairs Council’s Coast Guard Administration’s Kinmen-Matsu-Penghu Division once again implemented a powerful patrol operation … to closely monitor suspicious targets,” it said in a statement.

“The Kinmen-Matsu-Penghu Division said that the national security work will not slacken during the important celebrations,” it added.

Kinmen has been the site of ramped up tensions after Lai — who China has branded a “dangerous separatist” — was elected in Taiwan’s January elections.

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