Home News Taiwan amends law to fight Chinese illegal sand dredging

Taiwan amends law to fight Chinese illegal sand dredging

Taiwanese lawmakers have passed amendments to seize sand dredging equipment, mostly on Chinese ships operating illegally.

The amendments to Article 36 of the Sand and Gravel Excavation Act and to Article 18 of the Act on the Exclusive Economic Zone and the Continental Shelf of the Republic of China were passed on Monday. Republic of China (ROC) is the official name of Taiwan.

They stipulate that “vessels or other machinery involved in illegal activities can be confiscated, regardless of whether they belong to the perpetrator.” This is to prevent offenders from escaping punishment by claiming that their dredging vessels and equipment belong to someone else.

The Taiwanese legislature had already passed another amendment in 2021, increasing the penalties to a maximum of seven years in jail and a fine of up to NT$100 million (US$3.19 million.)

Illegal sand dredging to meet construction demands in China has in recent years become a serious problem in the waters around Taiwan. 

In 2020, Taiwan expelled nearly 4,000 Chinese sand-dredgers and sand-transporting vessels- a 560% leap from 2019, Reuters reported.

Military analysts say sand dredging and fishing are also methods used by China as “gray zone” tactics. Although these activities aren’t classified as acts of war, they still represent a threat to national security. 

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Specifically in the case of Taiwan, China has been actively using its coast guard and maritime militia, with sand dredging emerging as a key tactic. Incursions by Chinese aircraft and military vessels into waters around Taiwan have also become more frequent.

“Standing on the front line against authoritarian expansionism, Taiwan faces Chinese coercion and gray-zone tactics on a daily basis,” Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu told a forum in Taipei earlier this month.

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