The Coast Guard is taking a closer interest in the threat from Chinese civilian-military ships. (CNA, CGA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Coast Guard Administration (CGA) said Thursday (Oct. 20) it was prioritizing action around Taiwan’s outlying islands against civilian ships cooperating with China’s Navy.

Beijing has been using ostensibly civilian ferries and fishing trawlers to underline its claims to disputed parts of the South China Sea, while professional maritime militia harass foreign oil and gas operations, per AP.

Taiwan was listing the outer islands as a priority, sending extra ships to provide an adequate response, and drawing up standard operating procedures to deal with the problem, said CGA Deputy Director General Hsu Ching-chih (許靜芝). The scale of the issue was still manageable, and even after China launched massive military exercises in August, no fishing trawlers crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait, according to Hsu.

The CGA official presented a report about its activities to the weekly Cabinet meeting Thursday morning, CNA reported. During the first three quarters of 2022, the CGA also seized more than 6,600 kilograms of illegal drugs, more than during all of 2021.

Over the past five years, the CGA has impounded 230 Chinese vessels for illegal fishing and chased more than 6,000 ships out of Taiwanese waters, while also largely reducing the scale of illegal dredging by Chinese ships.