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Taiwan demands Philippines probe fisherman’s death

TAIPEI, Taiwan—The shooting death of a Taiwanese fisherman by the Philippine Coast Guard has become the latest incident to roil tensions over territorial disputes in and around the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), with Taipei calling Friday for Manila to apologize for the shooting.

Taiwan said that the coast guard opened fire Thursday on a 65-year-old fisherman in waters claimed by both governments. The Philippines acknowledged the Taiwanese claim, but said its personnel were acting in self-defense.

Meanwhile, China sought to make common cause with Taiwan against Manila, deploring the shooting in harsh rhetoric that threatened to spark another diplomatic tussle between Beijing and the Philippines, a key US ally in one of Asia’s most contentious areas.

Speaking to reporters in Taipei, Foreign Minister David Lin blamed the PCG for opening fire on the fisherman’s boat, the Kuang Ta Hsing No. 28, on Thursday, from a vessel belonging to the fisheries department of the Philippines Department of Agriculture in the Bashi Strait, about midway between southern Taiwan and the northern Philippines.

“We strongly condemn the fatal shooting of a Taiwanese fisherman by the Philippine fishery department,” Lin said. “We urge the Philippine government to open a full investigation on this case and send their apology to Taiwan’s government.”

Also on Friday, China expressed its condemnation of the incident, insisting it was holding the Philippines accountable for what happened.

“We strongly condemn the barbaric shooting and killing of the Taiwanese fisherman, demanding the Philippines should investigate the case and furnish the details as soon as possible,” said Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying. “We are deeply grieved about the death of the Taiwanese compatriot and have sent condolences to his family.”

Taiwan and China split amid civil war in 1949 and Beijing continues to claim the democratic island as part of its territory. In recent months it has made repeated attempts to bring Taiwan onto its side in its maritime disputes with Japan and other countries in the region. Taiwan has so far resisted, reflecting its own claims of national sovereignty.

Underscoring China’s interest in playing the incident up, government channel CCTV led its noontime news on Friday with an emotional report on the death of the Taiwanese fisherman, and the Communist Party-controlled Global Times newspaper called on the Chinese navy to increase its presence in the West Philippine Sea, amid angry condemnations of the Philippines as a “savage” country.

Taiwan’s freewheeling media also gave prominent attention to the incident, with newspapers reporting it in banner headlines and cable TV news stations giving it round the clock coverage.

In Manila, the Philippine Coast Guard acknowledged that its personnel had opened fire on the Taiwanese boat, but said they acted in self-defense.

“They were forced to fire the shots because the fishing vessel attempted to ram them,” said coast guard chief Rear Adm. Rodolfo Isorena.

Isorena said an investigation into the incident was being launched.

Relations between the Philippines and China, already hampered by simmering tensions over the Spratly Islands, deteriorated sharply last year when Chinese maritime vessels took control of a disputed shoal in the West Philippine Sea.

The Philippines has turned to its American ally to beef up its dilapidated military assets and train its forces, and angered Beijing by seeking UN arbitration on West Philippine Sea disputes.

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Tags: China , Philippines , South China Sea , Taiwan , territorial dispute , West Philippine Sea

  • CyberPinoy

    These chinese are getting bolder in infiltrating our territory now that they know that we are weak and could not even patrol our borders. This should be a wake-up call to our leaders, WE NEED A MILITARY BUILDUP AND FAST TRACK OUR AFP MODERNIZATION !!! we have no choice or we risk being run over by the greedy chinese from the north and the double-face Malaysians from the south.

    • everknow

      FYI, the islands in South China Sea are disputed, so you can’t say China took it away. just enforce the stand of the China. you can share the mineral and marine produce unless you want to own it all.That’s China’s suggestion, you didn’t like it and you sent battleship to confront fish boat.
      Saaba is different, that’s your land. Send your armed PCG and navy there to fight and get it back.

      • CyberPinoy

        FYI, we never say we own the whole spratlys unlike you chinese we only claim part of it next to our shore which is defined by the 200-mile Law of the sea therefore your so called disputed territory is actually an undisputed Filipino Territory that the chinese say they own. We are not greedy we only enforce laws which is covered by our territory and as the report say the Taiwanese fishermen are in PH territory also they were fired upon because they try to ram the PH coastguard vessel and the coastguard fired on the engine of the vessel but it was just unfortunate a fishermen got caught and died. Blame the skipper of your fisherman’s ship and ask him why he try to ram on the coastguard vessel. We are sorry for the lost of life but we dont need to apologize to your govt.

      • disqus_ZrxaGjUzMQ

        to everknow check your map where is it itbayat island and BATAN island and your taiwan illegal fishing boat is in the middle of those two island NOW TELL ME IF YOUR TAIWAN BOAT INSIDE TAIWAN OR OUTSIDE TAIWAN I LET U DECIDE WITH YOUR OWN EYE – I HOPE U GOT CLEAR EYES

  • Bulakenyo Ako

    After you try to infiltrate in our territory and steal our resources now you have the balls to tell us to apologize for the incident? Let me remind you that you dont own this planet much more our backyard.

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