Taiwanese coast guard commander Lin Chie-ming is on the frontline of a new type of warfare that China is waging against Taiwan. China’s weapon? Sand.
On a chilly morning in late January, Lin, clad in an orange uniform, stood on the rolling deck of his boat as it patrolled in choppy waters off the Taiwan-run Matsu Islands. A few kilometers away, the Chinese coast was faintly visible from Lin’s boat. He was on the lookout for Chinese sand-dredging ships encroaching on waters controlled by Taiwan.
The Chinese goal, Taiwanese officials say: pressure Taiwan by tying down the island democracy’s naval defenses and undermining the livelihoods of Matsu residents.
Half an hour into the patrol, Lin’s nine-man crew spotted two 3,000-ton dredgers, dwarfing their 100-ton vessel. Parked just outside Taiwan’s waters…