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June 23, 2017

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Taiwan Coast Guard's escort mission not 'acting': official

TAIPEI--The Coast Guard Administration (CGA) was not "acting" in its countering of Japanese Coast Guard vessels while escorting Taiwanese fishing boats during a protest in waters near the disputed Diaoyutai Islands in the East China Sea, an official said yesterday.

CGA Deputy Minister Cheng Chang-hsiung rejected media speculation that a water cannon altercation between Taiwanese and Japanese Coast Guard patrol craft was mere posturing on both sides.

If it were all an act, there would not have been a tense encounter, Cheng said at a legislative committee meeting.

On media reports that the water cannon used by the CGA were much weaker than those of their Japanese counterparts, Cheng said that this has to do with the wind direction. If the cannon are fired into the wind, the strength of the jet is correspondingly dissipated, he pointed out.

He said that using water cannon is one way of chasing away ships and that the water jets have a range of at least 50 meters, which he said "should have been able to meet the needs of the mission."

Local media reports said the trading of the water cannon blasts became the media's focus of the protest journey, but when netizens saw scenes of the action on TV they ridiculed the CGA, saying that their water jets were like "urine," while Japan's were flat, strong and powerful.

The captain of one of the ships that spearheaded the protest said he appreciated the CGA escort, but lamented that both the speed and horsepower of the patrol vessels were inferior to those of the Japanese vessels. He also said their equipment needs to be improved, according to news reports.

The CGA sent 12 ships to escort a large contingent of Taiwanese fishing boats that staged a protest over Japan's nationalization of the Diaoyutai Islands and the constant harassment of Taiwanese fishing ships in the waters near the Diaoyutai Islands two days earlier.

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