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Matsu Island (Photo Credit - Reuters)
Matsu Island (Photo Credit - Reuters)

China's new type of war against Taiwan

ANI | Updated: Mar 03, 2021 12:40 IST

Taipei [Taiwan], March 3 (ANI): China is waging a new type of war by dredging up the sand around the Taiwan-run Matsu islands, which are just off the shores of the mainland.
The dredging ships are a problem for local fishermen, reported DW News. A video report by DW's Joyce Lee highlighted the plight of the local fishermen, the fishing industry, and also talked about the depleting resources.
Chih juyi-yin, who has been fishing in the waters here for six years, said, "My whole office use to earn 100,000 Taiwan dollars a year, now it has dropped to 10,000 Taiwan dollars. Only 10 per cent left. Matsu used to be called 'the fishing paradise', but now all the fish are gone."
Chih juyi-yin blamed the illegal sand dredging by China for drying the sea-bed habitats and the loss of fish.
That's not the only destruction Chih juyi-yin sees, the sand dredged from the ocean is causing coastal-erosion around Matsu, reported DW News.
"This was covered in sand in the past, now, it's all stones. The loss of sands makes the beach steeper than before. It used to be just five-degree steep and now it's 15-degrees. It's much more tiring to move my haul of fish up. I need double the time and it affects my work a lot," added Chih juyi-yin.
The Taiwanese Matsu islands are just nine-kilometers from mainland China. Last year, the Chinese ships ramped up their dredging in the surrounding waters. Each ship can fetch up a full-load of 2,000 tonnes in two hours. The officials say that it is part of China's, 'Grey-Zone tactics' to drain resources and pressure Taiwan by non-military means, reported Lee.

The Grey-Zone tactics involve subduing the opposition through exhaustion, without involving the enemy directly in open war.
Wu su-jen and her husband live on the southern-side of Matsu Nangan Island. It's quiet in the night but they say that they often hear sand dredgers at dinner time. Noise pollution affects their quality of life and also brings back the memory of the traumatic war of the 60s and 70s.
"It reminds me of my childhood when China bombarded Matsu on alternate days of the week. We always had to run to bomb-shelters when we heard the alarms. Although, I don't think China will start a war now. It still makes me nervous. It has a psychological impact," said Wu su-jen.
Last year, Taiwan's Coastguard chased off nearly 4,000 Chinese dredgers, more than a six-fold increase from the year before. In December, Taiwan's Parliament changed laws to increase penalties and make it easier to confiscate illegal dredgers.
But, enforcing the law is difficult. Matsu ports simply don't have enough space to impound all the dredgers found violating the law.
A local fisherman, Chih juyi-yin said that he will have to give-up fishing soon. "Fishing is my passion. When there is no more fish, we have no choice but to do something else," he added.
"This is not just the problem for the fishing industry, we are losing our land as a country, if they continue to steal the sand, it is a matter of national security," said Chih juyi-yin. (ANI)