Taiwan Rejects Philippines Apology, Recalls Envoy; Freezes Hiring Of Filipinos Over Fisherman’s Shooting

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Protest in Taiwan
Activists throw eggs at the Manila Economic and Cultural Office, the de facto Philippine embassy in Taiwan, during a protest against Philippine government in Taipei on May 13, 2013

Taiwan on Wednesday recalled its envoy to the Philippines and suspended hiring Filipinos over Manila’s handling of the shooting death of a Taiwanese fisherman by the Philippine Coast Guard last Thursday.

President Ma Ying-jeou’s office expressed “strong dissatisfaction” over an apology issued by the Philippines representative in Taipei, saying the Philippines government lacked sincerity and was offering “reckless and perfunctory responses,” Reuters reported.

Taiwan’s Premier Jiang Yi-huah also registered displeasure over the apology, saying Taipei wants to be informed about whether the culprit will be charged, jailed or dismissed.

“The shooting was conducted by one of its civil servants, and its government could not evade the responsibility,” the premier said, adding Taiwan will not accept anything short of a government apology.

Jiang said the Taiwanese navy and coast guard will stage a two-day military drill in the disputed Bashi Strait to showcase the country's naval strength.

Taipei has also demanded compensation for the victim's family and the commencement of bilateral fishing talks.

Early on Wednesday, Antonio Basilio, head of the Philippine Representative Office in Taiwan, apologized over the incident, after a three-day deadline set by Taiwan for an apology expired, the BBC reported.

Basilio said Manila had agreed to compensate the fisherman's family and conduct a joint investigation into the incident.

“The Filipino people and the government understand the hurt and grief that the Taiwanese people have felt as result of the death of one of their own fellow citizens,” Basilio said.

Philippines coast guard personnel opened fire on the Taiwanese boat, the Kuang Ta Hsing No. 28, from a vessel that belonged to the fisheries division of the Philippine Department of Agriculture, in the disputed Bashi Strait, between Taiwan and the northern Philippines, last Thursday.

Previously, Philippines officials said the shooting was in self-defense because the Taiwanese boat was about to ram into the coast guard ship.

China has sought to side with Taiwan on the issue because Beijing regards Taiwan as a rebel region that needs to be reunited with the mainland after Taiwan separated from China in 1949.

Approximately 87,000 Filipinos work in Taiwan, many of whom are employed in the manufacturing sector, and also as domestic workers.

The South China Sea region has long been a reason for squabbling among several South East Asian nations, with overlapping territorial claims made by China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei leading to tensions in recent months.

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