TAIPEI (Reuters) – The Taiwan Navy fired a supersonic missile in error and hit a Taiwan fishing boat in waters separating the island from diplomatic rival China on Friday, as Communist Party rulers in Beijing celebrated the party’s 95th birthday.
The missile did not explode but pierced the boat and killed one Taiwan fisherman, officials said.
The ship-to-air missile was mis-fired from a 500-ton Navy patrol vessel during pre-inspection in southern Taiwan ahead of a mock exercise, Taiwan’s Navy Chief of Staff Mei Chia-shu told reporters.
“That this is politically motivated, or this is to create crisis in the surrounding situation, this is not the case,” Taiwan Defence Ministry spokesman Chen Chung-chi told reporters.
Initial findings indicate the missile did not explode and that it sank into the sea.
China has claimed sovereignty over Taiwan since 1949, when Mao Zedong’s forces won the Chinese civil war and Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalists fled to the island.
Beijing has vowed to bring Taiwan under its rule, by force if necessary.
Taiwan’s Defence Ministry said it had not detected irregular movements by China’s military after the accident.
The incident came as Chinese President Xi Jinping warned on Friday that the biggest threat to the ruling Communist Party is corruption, as he used the party’s birthday to also warn against any moves in Taiwan towards independence.
(Reporting by J.R. Wu; Editing by Nick Macfie)