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China says Taiwan seeking to ‘hide the truth’ about deadly boat incident

By AFP - Feb 22,2024 - Last updated at Feb 22,2024

This photo taken and released by Taiwan Central News Agency on Tuesday shows relatives of the Chinese victims (AFP photo)

BEIJING — China on Wednesday accused Taiwanese authorities of “seeking to evade their responsibilities and hide the truth” after two Chinese nationals died in a boat incident last week.

The Chinese boat carrying four people capsized on February 14 near Taiwan’s Kinmen islands while being pursued by the Taiwanese coast guard, throwing all onboard into the water.

Two of the crew died and two others were rescued and temporarily detained in Kinmen — a territory administered by Taipei but located just 5 kilometres from China’s city of Xiamen.

A survivor has reportedly claimed the boat was “rammed”, while Taiwan insists the coast guard was following legitimate procedures.

“We solemnly demand relevant parties in Taiwan to release the truth as soon as possible,” spokeswoman for Beijing’s Taiwan Affairs Office Zhu Fenglian said in a statement published online.

The incident occurred against a backdrop of heightened tensions between China and Taiwan, a self-ruled island that Beijing claims as part of its territory.

“We strongly condemn the Taiwan side’s rough treatment of mainland fishermen, strongly condemn the Taiwan side’s malicious action of ignoring life and enforcing the law by force while deliberately concealing the truth,” Zhu said.

“We also express strong indignation at the inhumane and indifferent words and deeds of the Taiwan side since the incident,” she added, calling for an apology to the bereaved families.

Earlier, Taiwan’s President-elect Lai Ching-te said he supported “firm law enforcement” by the island’s coast guard but hoped to avoid a “similar situation” following the deaths of the two Chinese nationals.

Wu Cheng, a spokesperson for Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), told reporters that the party and its chairman Lai hope the aftermath of the boat incident can be “handled properly”.

Chinese coast guard officials briefly boarded a Taiwanese tourist ship on Monday.

Taiwan held presidential election in January, won by current vice president Lai, whom Beijing considers a “separatist”.

On Tuesday, relatives of the deceased crew arrived in Kinmen, while the two survivors returned to mainland China, local TV footage showed.

One of the survivors claimed in an interview posted by a social media account affiliated with state-run China Media Group that the Taiwanese coast guard vessel had “rammed” their ship, causing it to capsize.

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