BEIJING – Talks are currently ongoing after four Chinese mainland fishermen were detained by Taiwanese authorities earlier this month, an official confirmed last Wednesday. In a press conference, Fan Liqing – the spokeswoman for the State Council Taiwan Affairs Office – said that “the mainland’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) and the Taiwan-based Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) were keeping in touch on the issue”.

The four fishermen and their boat were arrested by a Taiwan naval patrol off the water of Lesser Kinmen Island on Jan 14. The fishermen (who were identified as hailing from mainland Fujian province) were allegedly fishing in waters belonging to Taiwan’s exclusive fishing zone. Petitions have already been filed for their immediate release by the Fujian provincial government, stating the the fishermen were “in the traditionally shared fishing zone between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan.”

While collisions may occasionally happen between Chinese and Taiwanese fishing boats in the shared fishing areas, actual confrontation is quite rare, according to Fan Liqing. Fishermen would often assist one another, and stated that the Chinese mainland had always been very helpful towards Taiwanese fishermen – providing shelter, supplies, and salvage services.

Morever, the Fujian provincial government has doubled down on management of the two sides of the Taiwan strait to avoid disputes between Taiwan and China. Fan Liqing has called on the Taiwanese government to work with China’s mainland in order to maintain security and good relations in the said shared fishing zone.