Taiwan coastguard ship hosts Chinese vice minister

Chinese government officials Thursday boarded a Taiwanese coastguard frigate for the first time, in a rare joint search and rescue drill involving hundreds of crew members, Taiwan coastguards said.

By (AFP)

Published: Thu 30 Aug 2012, 3:44 PM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 9:59 AM

Around 600 rescuers and coastguards from Taiwan and China took part in the manoeuvre in waters near Kinmen, a Taiwan-controlled island group off China’s southeastern coastline, the Coast Guard Administration said.

A group of Chinese officials led by vice transport minister Xu Zuyuan watched the exercise on board the 2,000-tonne Taiwanese frigate “Tainan”.

“It’s the first time ever that Chinese government officials (have) been on board a coastguard vessel from Taiwan,” coastguard spokesman Hsieh Ching-chin told AFP. “It’s significant both historically and symbolically.”

Kinmen was the scene of bloody battles in the 1940s and 1950s when the Chinese military repeatedly tried to seize the fortified island group.

Thursday’s manoeuvre, only the second ever of its kind between the two sides, involved 18 rescue and coastguard vessels and two helicopters from Taiwan while China dispatched 11 ships and one helicopter.

The exercise played out a scenario where a passenger aircraft had crashed into the ocean, hitting a passenger boat shuttling between Kinmen and the mainland, the coastguard said.

China still considers Taiwan part of its territory awaiting reunification, by force if necessary, even though the island has governed itself since 1949.

Ties have improved greatly since 2008 after Ma Ying-jeou of the China-friendly Kuomintang became president of Taiwan on a platform of beefing up trade and tourism links.

More news from WORLD