Taiwan Pulls Its Envoy from the Philippines ; Move Comes after Killing of Fisherman by Coast Guard in Disputed Area

By Perlez, Jane | International Herald Tribune, May 16, 2013 | Go to article overview

Taiwan Pulls Its Envoy from the Philippines ; Move Comes after Killing of Fisherman by Coast Guard in Disputed Area


Perlez, Jane, International Herald Tribune


The diplomatic squabble comes after the killing of a fisherman from Taiwan by the Philippine Coast Guard in a disputed area of the South China Sea.

Taiwan announced the withdrawal of its representative in Manila on Wednesday and said it had stopped accepting applications for Filipino workers on the island, a retaliatory step for the killing of a fisherman from Taiwan by the Philippine Coast Guard last week.

The office of President Ma Ying-jeou said Taiwan regarded an informal apology offered earlier by the Philippines as inadequate.

The diplomatic squabble is the latest sign of high tensions over competing claims in and around the South China Sea among mainland China, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei.

The Philippines said that the fishing vessel from Taiwan had entered waters in its exclusive economic zone on Thursday and that it had tried to ram a Philippine Coast Guard ship. The fisherman, Hung Shih-cheng, 65, died from a bullet wound in the neck, and his boat was hit with dozens of rounds, officials from Taiwan said.

Taiwan has said that the shooting occurred at a location that is within exclusive economic zones claimed by it and the Philippines. Many jurisdictions have not negotiated clear boundaries for exclusive economic zones that overlap.

Mr. Ma's office said Wednesday that Taiwan's navy and coast guard would stage an exercise as a show of strength in disputed waters near where the incident occurred. But officials from Taiwan seemed to be resisting some calls for military action.

The Central Daily News in Taiwan urged the government to take tough action against the Philippines, saying that "suffering in silence" for fear of antagonizing the United States, an ally of the Philippines, would only mean further international marginalization of the island.

In an effort to defuse the diplomatic standoff, a spokesman for President Benigno S. Aquino III said later Wednesday that a presidential representative would convey "deep regret and apology" to the family of the dead fisherman and to the people of Taiwan. …

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