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Taiwan investigates how a Chinese fishing boat managed to enter a strategic river mouth

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — Taiwanese authorities are investigating how an alleged former Chinese naval officer sailed a small boat into a strategic river mouth that leads to the capital of the self-governing island republic.

The small boat was detected off the coast but apparently was not interdicted until it began interfering with ferry traffic across the Tamsui River, which flows from the mountains of inner Taiwan into the 160-kilometer (100-mile) -wide Taiwan Strait that separates Taiwan and China, which split during a civil war in 1949.

The boat’s pilot was identified as a 60-year-old former officer in China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy surnamed Ruan, the official Central News Agency said, raising questions as to whether the voyage was an attempt to test Taiwan’s detection and defense capabilities amid rising Chinese threats to conquer the island it claims as its own territory.

The Taiwan Strait is a key transit point for global commerce but is also known for its winds and tides, raising speculation over whether the small boat made it on its own from the Chinese coast or was launched from some kind of mother vessel.

Transport links have been restored between the sides over the past two decades, but China’s ruling Communist Party keeps tight restrictions on where serving and retired officials can travel.