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May 26, 2017

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Chinese skipper hit autopilot: CGA

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Coast Guard Administration (CGA) held a press conference yesterday, saying that the captain of a Chinese fishing boat switched on the autopilot mode and headed in a northeasterly direction after five CGA officers boarded the boat for inspection on Saturday afternoon.

The CGA escorted the fishing boat back to Taiwan's Keelung Harbor on Sunday morning around 6 a.m. The captain of the fishing boat, Hsu Junhui, and his crew violated the Act Governing the Relations between the People of the Taiwan Area and the People of the Mainland Area and obstructed official operations, the CGA said.

On Saturday morning, the CGA received a report claiming that the Chinese fishing boat was having a dispute with a Taiwanese fishing boat in the waters around Pengjiayu Islet. In light of this, the CGA dispatched a vessel with 15 officers on board, arriving at the location around 2 p.m.

Pan Chin-chia (潘進家), deputy director-general of the Maritime Patrol Directorate General under the CGA, said that after five CGA officers boarded the Chinese boat, the captain lost control, yelling that if he got caught he would have to pay fines and threatening to kill himself. The captain returned to his boat and secretly set the boat into autopilot mode, the CGA said.

CGA Denies Speculation of Abduction

Pan said many media reports have claimed that the five coast guards were abducted by the Chinese boat, but the incident does not constitute an abduction. He went on to explain that while three of the five officers monitored six members of the boat crew, one guard stayed in the cockpit and another followed the captain closely. After the boat was put on autopilot, the coast guard vessel originally carrying the officers started chasing it and requested backup after it suddenly sped away with the five officers still on board.

A total of five Coast Guard vessels intercepted the fishing boat in waters 40 nautical miles northeast of Taiwan's Pengjiayu islet as of 7 p.m., following a chase of a few hours, officials said.

Captain Attempts to Adjust Panelsv

After all five vessels surrounded the Chinese fishing boat, the CGA sent seven coast guard officers to board the boat. Officers saw Hsu attempting to adjust the autopilot panels and stopped him.

The Chinese fishing boat was escorted by three Coast Guard vessels to Keelung Harbor yesterday morning. Nine Chinese crewmembers, including the captain, were transferred to the district prosecutors' office for further investigation.

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