Hong Kong – Maritime authorities in Malaysia said they stopped six Chinese fishing vessels in Malaysian territorial waters Saturday, as Beijing increases its presence throughout the South China Sea.
According to a statement, 60 Chinese nationals were detained during an operation off the eastern coast of Johor, the southern Malaysian state which borders Singapore. Their vessels, all of which were registered in Qinhuangdao, a port in northern China, were en-route to Mauritania, West Africa, when they trespassed in Malaysian water, said the country’s maritime authorities.
Malaysia reported 89 intrusions by Chinese coastguards and navy ships between 2016 and 2019, as tensions continue to escalate between the United States and China over Beijing’s claims to most of the resource-rich South China sea, which is also a major trade route.
The arrests coincide with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s tour of South-east Asia nations. The four-day trip is intended to help bolster regional ties amid growing pressure from Washington and continued fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.