Taiwan scrambles ships to chase Chinese boat

TAIPEI (AFP) - A Chinese fishing boat with nine crew aboard was escorted to Taiwan Sunday after an hours-long sea chase involving five coastguard vessels and a naval frigate, officials said.

The crew of the "Zhe Ling Yu 69088", a 260-tonne vessel from China's eastern province of Zhejiang, were questioned by coastguards immediately after the boat arrived at Keelung harbour in northern Taiwan.

"The fishing boat will be fined NT$250,000 (S$10,420) for illegal fishing," Chen Su-chuan, a coastguard captain, told AFP.

The nine will also be investigated on charges of obstructing official duties, Chen said.

The incident began Saturday when the coastguard sent a boat to the sea off Pengchiayu, a tiny islet to the north of Taiwan, following a dispute between the Chinese boat and a Taiwanese fishing vessel.

Five Taiwanese coastguards armed with stun guns and batons jumped onto the Chinese boat after it refused to halt.

Instead the Chinese skipper sped away and set his ship on autopilot which the Taiwanese coastguards could not disable.

This prompted authorities to chase the boat for more than four hours before it could be halted, the coastguard said.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.