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China Is Stealing Taiwan’s Sand

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11.07.2022

At the end of April, the Taiwan Coast Guard Administration received a new frigate, the Hsinchu. At 4,000 tons, it’s a massive beast and was immediately assigned for duty in Taiwan’s Northern Pacific Flotilla to protect one of Taiwan’s most precious maritime resources: sand. China is increasing its dredging of sand in the islands’ waters. It’s a devious activity that gets Beijing much-needed sand—and presents Taiwan with large expenses and maritime degradation.

“The Hsinchu is the second of four planned CGA [Coast Guard Administration] frigates and is equipped with three high-pressure water cannons that are able to shoot at targets up to 120 meters away,” Taiwan News reported when the new frigate was received. Around the time of the Hsinchu’s arrival, the CGA also received the fourth and fifth of 12 planned offshore patrol vessels. The frigates alone will cost Taiwan almost $400 million.

The CGA needs its new vessels because in the past few years, the Matsu Islands—Taiwanese territory close to the coast of China—have been receiving a steady stream of unwelcome visitors. The visitors are excavators, with crews that arrive in the waters off the islands—waters that belong to Taiwan—to take Taiwan’s sand. In 2020, Taiwan expelled nearly 4,000 Chinese sand-dredgers and sand-transporting vessels from its waters—a 560 percent leap from 2019, Reuters reported.

At the end of April, the Taiwan Coast Guard Administration received a new frigate, the Hsinchu. At 4,000 tons, it’s a massive beast and was immediately assigned for duty in Taiwan’s Northern Pacific Flotilla to protect one of Taiwan’s most precious maritime resources: sand. China is increasing its dredging of sand in the islands’ waters. It’s a devious activity that gets Beijing much-needed sand—and presents Taiwan with large expenses and maritime degradation.

“The Hsinchu is the second of four planned CGA [Coast Guard Administration] frigates and is equipped with........

© Foreign Policy


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