PLA Logistics Ships Entered Kinmen Island’s Restricted Waters

On June 1st, the Taiwan Coast Guard’s (TCG) Kinmen-Matsu-Penghu (Kinmapeng) Branch released a statement saying two People’s Liberation Army (PLA) logistics vessels sailed into the restricted waters off the coast of Kinmen Island on May 29th.

Image of PLA logistics vessel KD161 sailing in restricted waters off Kinmen Island (Photo: Central News Agency/Taiwan Coast Guard)

May 29th Incident 

Approximate area where the two PLA logistics vessels entered restricted waters off coast of Kinmen Island on May 29th (Photo: Google Earth)

The TCG said the incident began at 9:13 a.m. local time on May 29th, when the Kinmen Defense Command’s Tiamushan and Coast Guard Intercoastal Radar Stations detected two “suspicious targets” sailing towards the island from Xiamen, China. The targets then sailed into the restricted waters south of the Zhaishan Tunnel, Kinmen. The branch dispatched one TCG boat to determine the identities of the two ships and collect evidence. The TCG vessel located the targets and identified them as two PLAN Yupen-class Landing Craft, Mechanized (LCM) boats with the pennant numbers KD161 and KD162. The TCG ship issued warnings to the vessels while taking photographs and videos of the landing ships. The vessels sailed out of the island’s restricted waters at 9:53 a.m. local time after approximately 40 minutes.

Image of PLA logistics vessel KD162 sailing in restricted waters off Kinmen Island (Photo: Taiwan Coast Guard)

Analysis

The May 29th incident suggests that China will escalate its intrusion operations in the restricted and prohibited waters around Kinmen Island to challenge Taiwan’s maritime boundaries. Furthermore, China likely also used the incident to test how the new administration of William Lai will react to the intrusions. The incident is the first time that two PLA vessels sailed into restricted waters near Kinmen, with the China Coast Guard (CCG) vessels conducting the intrusion missions. Furthermore, the incident also comes approximately one month after the CCG and the Ministry of National Defense announced the normalization of law enforcement patrols around Kinmen. Previously, PLA vessels would choose routes that went around the boundaries and make efforts to avoid crossing into the restricted or prohibited waters. China likely viewed sending the two Yupen-class boats to cross into Kinmen’s restricted waters as an escalation that would be relatively easy to control due to the vessels’ relatively small size and non-combat role.

China also used the incident to test how William Lai’s administration would react to these intrusions near the island. While Lai was the Vice President under former Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen’s administration, China views him as being more pro-independence due to statements he previously made. Furthermore, the Chinese government views Lai as wanting to increase Taiwan’s campaign to receive international recognition from foreign leaders and organizations. For example, the intrusion occurred after a delegation of U.S. politicians visited Taiwan in the last week of May, which China used to show its displeasure over the visit.

Furthermore, China conducted the intrusion during the delegation visit to see how Lai would react, which is why the TCG delayed releasing details about the incident until after the visit. However, China would manage the number and frequency of PLA vessels that cross into Kinmen’s waters to maintain control over any incidents that may occur. China will likely limit any intrusions to small vessels, such as Hobei-class missile boats or small amphibious or logistics ships similar to the Yupen-class LCMs. Furthermore, the country would only send PLA vessels on intrusion missions as a reaction to Taiwanese officials meeting with foreign officials.

Joaquin Camarena
Joaquin Camarena
Joaquin the panda began Sino Talk in 2022 primarily to give an objective, unbiased view on China related topics as well as other issues related to the Indo-Pacific region. He spent several years studying and traveling throughout China and many countries in the Indo-Pacific region. In another life, the panda was also a U.S. Marine intelligence analyst who enjoyed bamboo MREs and drinking bourbon and soju. Indo-Pacific Division Desk Chief for Atlas News.

MORE FROM ATLAS NEWS

Tren de Aragua: The New MS-13?

Tren de Aragua, otherwise known as the Aragua Train, is Venezuela’s largest and most powerful criminal organization. While the gang found its origins in prison, it quickly expanded—now boasting a global...

Philippines and China Release Footage of June 17th Incident at Second Thomas Shoal

On June 19th, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) released videos and photos of the resupply mission that occurred on June 17th. The AFP released the footage after...