Thursday, May 30, 2013

Interlude: Some additional links on Phils/Taiwan

This article from a law prof in the Phils lays out the legal issues quite clearly. Worth a read, my thanks to the anonymous commenter who passed it along to me. Lots of good links added by visitors to the bottom of my Phils/Taiwan posts. Thanks, everyone!

Second, I put up another post over at Asian Correspondent. If I have time I am going to take a crack at The Diplomat today. Very distressed by the last couple of posts I've seen there.

Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Good-bye capital gains tax, we hardly knew ya

One of the many things this mess with the Phils has enabled the government to divert public attention from the drive to eliminate the capital gains tax. As a tax on the wealthy which kicked in when the stock market crossed 8,500, it was odious to the KMT, the island's party of the 1%. In the latest "economic stimulus" package of the government, it will be killed....
One of the measures involved the legislature passing an amendment to the Income Tax Act (所得稅法) before the current session ends on Friday to drop the 8,500-point threshold that automatically triggers the capital gains tax for individual investors, Jiang said.

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) has proposed removing the requirement that the TAIEX surpass 8,500 points for the tax to be imposed and replace it with a tax on investors who sell NT$1 billion (US$33.3 million) worth of shares during one calendar year.

The premier said that abolishing the threshold would turn the economy around because it would be like “lifting the cover off a pot” to let the “suffocated” economy breathe.
Alas, removing the capital gains tax will simply result in more capital being hoarded and then shipped out of the country instead of being reinvested here and driving economic growth in Taiwan. It will only make the rich richer, and Taiwan being so expensive, the poor cannot even console themselves with babies.

UDN rightly complained:
Despite the many steps taken, however, nothing has seemed to work. The latest package focuses on expanding consumer spending, boosting domestic investment, encouraging innovation and new business start-ups, and revising the capital gains tax on stock sales. The content is not at all inspiring because it did not go beyond the existing policy framework.

Moreover, the government is planning to invest a mere NT$3.24 billion over five years in the new package. How can we expect it to rescue Taiwan's weak economy?
Figure it out. In US dollars, $3.24 billion is a little over US$100 million, or $20 million annually for the "stimulus". Peanuts.

According to the TT article, the DGBAS lowered its estimate of growth for the year to 2.4%. Recall that industrial output fell for the third straight month in April, as Bloomberg noted in its roundup of economic indicators.
Daily Links:
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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Phils/Taiwan Take 7: Linkfest and Pocket Analysis edition

A road warrior weaves through rush hour traffic on a narrow Taipei street. Lovin' the new Sigma 17-70mm lens.

The Taiwan/Phils mess, some recent stuff....
  • Ritual slaughter: David Lin, Minister of Foreign Affairs, "grilled" by the legislature. Lawmakers -- especially the DPP's emptyheaded support of the gov't -- helped feed Taipei's botched response. Hinting that Lin, who probably had no hand in the real decision making, should resign, is unconscionable. 
  • Manila, Taipei, will reach consensus after the probe. Which will naturally be what Taipei wants it to be, right?
  • Fisheries Director Sha says the Taiwan-Japan pact can be a model for a Taiwan-Phils pact. That's nice, but if the gov't really cared about Taiwan's fisherman, it would have resolved this issue quietly to score brownie points with Manila so it can maybe negotiate a fisheries treaty (unrealistic anyway), but that is impossible because....
  • Ben Goren says, so much going on here is driven by Han Chauvinism. Taipei's historical cold shoulder to Manila while sucking up to higher status advanced powers is just one manifestation of this. 
  • An awful analysis of the Taiwan-Phils mess. Quick, if I say the phrase "Taiwanese nationalism", what do you think of?  Sun Yat-sen and China, right?
  • The Taipei Times editorializes that the media must remain "balanced." Would love to see some soul searching there about the media's uncritical acceptance of the government's jingoistic line and more importantly, in fostering public ignorance about the ROC, Taiwan, territorial claims, and the behavior of Taiwanese fisherman overseas. 
  • Of the articles that have appeared on this brouhaha, this one is my favorite, priceless comedy: Batan Islands not part of Philippines. Why did the Taipei Times kill trees to print this? Who is the real writer?
  • Phils national roundball team not invited to Jones Cup.
  • A Phils perspective of the problem of marine resources in this issue, which -- wonder of wonders! -- has hardly been forthrightly and directly mentioned in the Taiwan English papers. "Caught red-handed and obviously poaching inside Philippine waters, Taiwan is obscuring the issue that led to the unfortunate death of its fisherman."
  • Finally, the Phils media reports that investigators from Taiwan have seen the video of the killing. I hope this means it will be out in the next couple of days.
  • Oh and.... Phils demands that China withdraw ships from Second Thomas Shoal
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Chen Shui-bian back to the DPP?

Snack time in the alleys across from NTU.

Several months ago I asked foreigners who were wasting their time appealing for the medical parole of Chen Shui-bian to stop and think about what they are doing. I then observed:
Were Chen ever to get out, he would go back to seeking the limelight, encouraging splits within the DPP in order to aggrandize his own faction and friends, and so on. Both the China Post and Taipei Times pieces essentially say the same thing even though they disagree. When Chen gets out he is going to re-enter pan-Green politics, sucking up time, effort, resources, and funds that could be going directly to the DPP and meaningful and important pro-Taiwan groups and causes. He'll be constantly pursued and goaded by the pro-Blue media for inflammatory quotes, further dividing rather than uniting.
Chen's application to re-join the DPP -- he withdrew in 2008 -- is exactly the kind of thing I was talking about. The Taipei Times article gives a taste of his effect on the party, beginning with remarks from former DPP Presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen....
Tsai on Saturday said that Chen, who is serving a 20-year sentence for corruption, “would have to make a lot more effort to win back society’s respect,” since DPP members are divided over the ramifications and implications of Chen rejoining the party.

Tsai’s comment drew heavy criticism from Chen’s supporters, in particular his son, Chen Chih-chung (陳致中), who wrote on his Facebook page that he could not understand the remark and begged to disagree with Tsai, adding that it was she “who has to work a lot harder for the presidential nomination in 2016.”

Former Northern Taiwan Society director Janice Chen (陳昭姿), a staunch backer of Chen Shui-bian, said Tsai took the stance to try to garner support from independent voters and had betrayed the former president’s support for her during his presidency.

“Chen Shui-bian worked hard enough during his eight years in the Presidential Office [and deserves the full support from his former party comrades],” said DPP Legislator Mark Chen (陳唐山), convener of the One Country, One Side Alliance group, which was founded by the former president.

Others said that Tsai had made a good point, although the issue of Chen Shui-bian’s return had not been on the agenda at the congress.

“While many people, include myself, believed that Chen Shui-bian was politically persecuted and that he deserves medical parole, A-bian himself admitted he had made mistakes that disgraced his party. Tsai’s comment was fair because she was not addressing whether A-bian was guilty or not,” Taipei City Councilor Liang Wen-chieh (梁文傑) wrote on his Facebook page yesterday.
Why does Chen want to rejoin the DPP? Because he is committing to supporting the party? Because he wants to humbly participate in party politics? Naw. It's all about the Family. Note the reference to Chen's son Chen Chih-chung. Some of you may recall that the Chen lad ran as an independent against the DPP in the Kaohsiung legislative elections, losing and splitting the pan-Green vote, which likely handed the victory and the legislative seat to the KMT.

Chen Shui-bian is still out there supporting his son, and rejoining the DPP is apparently part of his strategy for doing so, some DPP insiders say. The media sensation caused by his possible return is apparently part of his strategy for elevating his son's profile and chances of winning the next election. Thus, not only has Chen Shui-bian's move split the DPP, he's apparently using that split to advance his own agenda.

Like I said, international pro-Taiwan folks, quit wasting your time on Chen Shui-bian. He's only going to repay your efforts with division and chaos. Let the locals who support him handle the effort.
Daily Links:
  • Paul Sharpe on his first ride on the NE coast after blowing out his knee months ago.
  • Commercial Times: figures reveal Taiwan's economic plight:
    Private-sector investment as a percentage of Taiwan's gross national product was only 14.9 percent in 2012 and 15.4 percent in 2011. The figures not only were lower than the levels of 17-18 percent recorded before the global financial crisis but also far inferior to South Korea's 24 percent.
  • Cool: write-up of visit for Robotics contest (h/t to Red A)
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Monday, May 27, 2013

Biking: the Michaels do the NE hills

This weekend I finally had time to do another two days of riding in the beautiful places of Taiwan. This time we rode in the hills east of Taipei, an area I had long wanted to explore, but had never been able to find a weekend when I had time and the weather was good. Finally I just threw caution to the wind and decided to go and damn the weather. Sure enough, the bike gods reward the faithful, and we had two days of excellent weather. Above a shaft of sunlight catches a woman in a Ruifang alleyway. All the pics were taken with my Canon EOS 550D and my new Sigma 17-70mm lens. Click on Read More below....

Friday, May 24, 2013

Asian Correspondent: Taiwan Botches It and ON VACATION

A remarkably perspicacious piece from a singular correspondent. If I do say so myself....

Also, the awesome political scientist Ketty Chen has a new blog. Enjoy.

Further enjoy this well-intentioned piece in the Washington Post taking the Administration to task for its Taiwan-blindness.

I'm off biking in the mountains far away from the world this weekend. So your comments will not be posted until Monday. My apologies.
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U of Alberta Conf this weekend: Taiwan in dynamic transition

May 23, 2013

CONF Taiwan in Dynamic Transition

University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta
May 25-26, 2013
Stollery Executive Development Centre 5-40A


The international conference “Taiwan in Dynamic Transition,” hosted by the Department of East Asian Studies at the University of Alberta, will take place on May 25-26. At the conference, distinguished scholars from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, and the United
States will present original research on some of the most salient aspects of Taiwan’s social, political, and cultural transformation in the 20th and 21st centuries.

The experts participating in this interdisciplinary conference represent a range of academic disciplines in the social sciences and humanities. Their presentations pertain to such topics as the influence of political discourse and education on the imagination of Taiwanese history and identity; democratization and political reform at local and national levels; cultural, racial, and gender tensions as seen through the lens of popular literature; Taiwan as a provider of foreign aid and developmental expertise; the influence of global norms on Taiwanese society and political institutions.

For the full conference program, see this link
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Thursday, May 23, 2013

All the things we're missing since a fisherman was shot

Dragonflies Damselflies mating.

With the Phils/Taiwan mess ongoing, I bet you've forgotten what you haven't remembered. Wait, let me rephrase that.... Like, what happened to the referendum on the nuclear power plant? One of my friends who is a sharp observer of local politics pointed that out to me.

In the news is the usual food scandals. Imagine, a firm using expired ingredients to produce goods for human consumption, in this case I-mei, which allegedly pumped 9000 kilos of soy protein stuff into 5.76 million packs of cream puffs. The government was also accused of hiding data indicating a common medicinal mushroom is actually bad for you. And Taiwan now has its own version of Breaking Bad: a rogue chemistry teacher making bad food additives...
According to a Taiwanese legislator, a retired high school chemistry teacher has been teaching food factories to make maleic acid, an illegal food additive that can cause kidney damage—a real-world echo of the TV drama “Breaking Bad,” in which a chemistry teacher develops a sideline cooking methamphetamine.

Taiwan issued a recall on Sunday of the Sunright brand of tapioca balls, which are used in bubble tea, after trace amounts of maleic acid were found. The chemical is typically used in non-food products such as glue, paper, artificial resins, and antihistamines.

Taiwan’s Want China Times reported that the retired school teacher, whose surname is Wang, received $16,700 to $33,500 each time he taught factories in Taiwan, Vietnam, and Thailand to make the chemical.
The gov't announced in the wake of the scandal over the Yoho hotel, which turned out to be maybe illegal, that about 80% of the small hotels and B and Bs in Kenting were operating illegally. Yes, the government promised to tear down hotels that didn't manage to get into compliance or pay fines or whatever. On the other hand, if you're a big developer and put up a huge hotel on a formerly pristine public beach in a manner that suggests words like "cahoots" to describe your relationship with local officialdom, nothing will happen to you. And they say size doesn't matter....

The jobless rate fell slightly to right around 4% last month. However, export orders are torpid, so don't expect much on the employment front.

The gov't, always eager to promote tourism, announced free wifi for tourists who are foreign passport holders. I plan to see if I can sign onto this....

CK Wu of Taiwan is running for president of the International Olympic Committee (hey, a link to ESPN)

Blind Chinese dissident Chen to visit Taiwan. China warns him.

Yes, that's right, even when you miss the news for a week as the Manila-Taipei spat adumbrates all lesser news, no worries, it's still the same news you knew for the last twenty years here: food cheating, illegal buildings and businesses.....
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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Phils/Taiwan Mess Round Up: Links-n-stuff

Bike gear on display

No time to write.... odds and ends from around the web world. Hopefully I'll have more time to post tomorrow.

The VDR data from the boats has now been released. Liberty Times and ETToday

Decide for yourself: whose side makes more sense?
The story of the Taiwan fisherman

The story of the Phils Coast Guard

ROC and Phils gov'ts agree on joint probe

J Michael in The Diplomat identifies where Taiwan went wrong and could possibly have saved the situation.

Finally, this is from a Taiwanese law professor at the U of Warwick. Posted with his permission, it was sent to a list and then distributed.


Notes on the Taiwan-Philippines Dispute by Ming-Sung Kuo (adaption
of two posts in response to an online chat)

Legally speaking, the issue is whether the use of force is necessary for the Philippines Coast Guard to enforce its rights under Article 73, paragraph 1 of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. Preventing suspect poachers from 'fleeing' the jurisdiction of the coastal state concerned, including the disabling of suspect vessels by the use of arms, is a legitimate means to that end. Whether the said Taiwanese vessel attempted to flee, which would be a crucial factor in determining on the legality (ie necessity in this case) of the Philippines Coast Guard's use of force, cannot be answered until all legal procedures, including a thorough investigation, are completed.

Premature reactions from Taiwan, official and civil, in the wake of this unfortunate incident have simply made matters more complicated. It is the principle of equal sovereignty, not sincerity, that is the cardinal rule of international relations. In terms of the post-incident investigation, which concerns the exercise of sovereign rights, I would say that it is the law enforcement authorities of the Philippines, including the prosecutors, not their Taiwanese counterpart, that has the primary jurisdiction. Taiwan’s unilateral dispatch of an investigative team to the Philippines without the latter’s consent (Note: notice is not consent) is unacceptable to any sovereign state.

Having said that, I do not mean that Taiwan cannot demand a role in the investigation. Nevertheless, demanding an official apology before the investigation was even launched was simply out of step with diplomatic protocols. No sovereign state would agree to such a demand in a legal dispute like this. In the immediate wake of the incident, Taiwan could have put pressure (which should be proportionate too) on the Government of the Philippines to expedite the investigation for sure but should not have demanded an official apology before the investigation was completed. What makes matters more complicated is that it's unlikely that a sovereign state like the Philippines (or even the US) would make a formal government-to-government apology to Taiwan, which has no statehood under international law. The 'extra mile' that the Government of the Philippines claimed it had gone probably referred to President Aquino's 'deep regret and apology' to the Lin family and the Taiwanese people when the investigation was still ongoing.

Sadly, denied statehood way too long, Taiwan doesn't understand how sovereign states interact with each other in the postwar international legal system. Did the incident result from territorial disputes between Taiwan and the Philippines? No. Is there any territorial dispute over Batanes between Taiwan and the Philippines? No. If so, what is the point of sending armed forces near the territorial waters of the Philippines? To take an undisputed territory of the Philippines like Batanes away from the Philippines would be a blatant violation of Article 2 of the UN Charter. Put bluntly, it is an aggressive war. Or, conducting war games is just a way to put pressure on the Philippines. Doesn't this evoke the dated gunboat diplomacy in the imperial age? I don't think this is a wise way to win public opinions in the international society.

In my view, the way that the Government of the Philippines responded to Taiwan's demands didn't suggest insincerity, although it did not make Taiwanese feel good either, which is what Taiwanese mean by 誠意. Unfortunately 'feel good' is not what international society is concerned about. Perhaps this is the root cause of Taiwan's frustration amidst this incident. I do agree that We the Taiwanese People have to fight on for the unfulfilled sovereignty. Yet, we should pick a good fight. Unfortunately this incident is not and the way it has been dealt with is unhelpful.
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Monday, May 20, 2013

Daily Links, Monday, May 19, 2013

I didn't shoot until I saw the whites of his eyes.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has this front and center on its website at the moment.


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Sunday, May 19, 2013

Who'll Stop the Rain?

There are other things happening in Taiwan besides this idiotic thing with Phils... there's the depressingly unremitting rain.

We're in our seventh or eighth week of it, and this week has just been awful. Apple Daily reports roads out all over central and southern Taiwan:
Road collapses reported in mountain areas of Hwy 8, Hwy 20, Hwy 21, and Rte 169 over Alishan, among others.
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Phils/Taiwan Mess, Take 5: Troublemaker, not Peacemaker edition

The small, upscale farmers market in front of the Splendor Hotel in downtown Taichung.
"We want to be a responsible stakeholder in the world, meaning that we should be a peacemaker, not a troublemaker." Ma Ying-jeou, April, 2008
Yes, all over East Asia stupidity meters are exploding. The madness has gone mainstream, with the big media slowly weighing in with reports that Something is Happening Out Here and it is important, although of course not nearly as important as the latest adjustments to Kim Kardashian's tits.

One of the sharpest observers of Taiwan affairs I know put the Ma government's policy in perspective: "Maintaining good relations with the Philippines is really a core interest of Taiwan." But of course we're seeing the exact opposite. Several normally reticent and thoughtful people I talk to have opined that it is hard to avoid thinking that Ma's policy is to push the island closer to China by distancing it from nations which ought to be its allies. Once again, only China is benefiting from this spat. It's probably not a coincidence that Ma has been irritating relations with two of Taiwan's US-backed allies, Phils and Japan.
Taiwan has to be a respectable member of the global village. Dignity, autonomy, pragmatism and flexibility should be Taiwan's guiding principles when developing foreign relations. As a world citizen, the Republic of China will accept its responsibilities in promoting free trade, nonproliferation, anti-global warming measures, counter-terrorism, humanitarian aid, and other global commons. Taiwan must play a greater role in regional cooperation. By strengthening economic relations with its major trading partners, Taiwan can better integrate itself in East Asia and contribute more to the region's peace and prosperity. -- Inaugural address, May 2008.
This commentary, The Thugs of Taiwan, in the Manila Standard was making the rounds of the Taiwan discussion groups this week.....
The circumstances surrounding the death of the Taiwanese fisherman, Hung Shih Chen, seemed lost on the people of Taiwan. The fishing boat Guang Ta Shin was caught poaching in Philippine waters. Despite warning shots from the Philippine side, the Taiwanese ship tried to ram the Philippine Coast Guard patrol boat which fired shots in self-defense.

This is not the first time Taiwanese fishermen have been caught poaching in our waters. But like recidivists released through the intercession of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office, they return to commit the same offense.

It is a sad commentary that the Philippine government is groveling before Taiwan in the face of economic and labor sanctions. What the government should do is to find an alternative for job opportunities at home. The Philippines, after all, has been getting rave reviews from international investment ratings groups like Fitch and Standard and Poor’s. Government must trickle down the upside in the Philippine economy to its own people instead of deploying them overseas as slave labor.
The Phils side simply has the better story -- the Taiwan side's silliness is thoroughly demonstrated in this video making the rounds on Facebook....

...whose story is simplistic in the extreme, lacking any serious discussion of the incident. Meanwhile the Phils side tells a story involving poachers that has a long and totally sympathetic history.

That video above does have one interesting remark. At one point it notes the "location" of the incident, which -- what a coincidence -- puts it 5 miles inside Taiwan's claimed area.

Similarly, Taipei is not helping itself in my mind with ...mistaken... claims, claims that the PCG deliberately murdered the crew member. In Manila, at a press conference, Global Post reported:
Chen Wen-chi, head of the Taiwan team investigating the May 9 incident, said most of the bullets had hit the fishing boat's cockpit where its crew hid.

"By combining the... evidence, it clearly shows that the Philippine law enforcers were intentionally shooting the Guang Ta Hsin 28 crew members, which indicates their intent of murder," Chen told a news conference in Manila.
The claim that the Phils sailors were shooting at the cockpit in order to deliberately kill the crew is needlessly incendiary, making conciliation difficult, and worse, appears to be false based on easily accessible evidence. Take a moment and look carefully at the bullet trajectories deduced by the ROC government itself. They show that, just as the PCG claims, it shot at the bow and at the engine [stern] compartment [engine is usually more toward the center, I just found out]. Note also that in the cross section, the bullets to the stern are almost all below the deck. The one that killed the fisherman appears to be a stray. After making this baseless accusation, the Taiwanese team went home in a huff complaining Manila was insincere and its attitude was capricious and dishonest. LOL. With that attitude, it is no wonder Manila is not letting the investigative team from Taiwan in on the investigation.  This murder claim is coming down from the top; President Ma is also trumpeting a shrill blast of cold blooded murder as well.

More seriously, this willingness to mistaken... causes me to question Chen Wen-chi's claim that the boat was in Taiwan's claimed zone rather than Phils territorial waters as Manila says it was.
"Taiwan is no longer a troublemaker but a peacemaker." Ma Ying-jeou, Dec, 2008
The Taipei Times ran an interview with a fisherman who has had much trouble over the years in the waters around the Philippines.
"When these navy sailors and officers came aboard our boat, they would loot almost everything we had, from raincoats and videotapes to food, tissues and other materials," Chang said.

"If we were lucky, we were allowed to leave and go home, otherwise they would plant evidence against us and confiscate our boat. They would strip the boat’s engine and all the usable instruments. Then they would demand that we pay a heavy fine," he added.

Chang recalled elderly fishermen advising them to keep about NT$500,000 in cash on board, so if their boat was detained by Philippine seamen, giving them the cash usually could ensure the crew’s safety and the boat’s release.
The fisherman said he'd been having trouble since the early 1990s. Of course, remember that to Manila, many of these fisherman are poachers.
“Taiwan wants to be a peacemaker in this part of the world, and to shed the once troublemaker image in the international community,” Ma said. July, 2008
The excellent Philip Bowring in SCMP scolded the Ma Administration for its reaction..... and correctly identifies the racism and contempt for the too-brown Filipinos that is coloring the reaction here in Taiwan:
For sure, the Philippine coastguard was guilty of the trigger-happy behaviour so common in a country which inherited its gun culture from the US and whose armed services are not known for their discipline. But the reaction by the government in Taipei, with economic and other sanctions, is out of all proportion given that this unfortunate event was clearly the result of local misjudgment rather than the state policy of the sort which sends Chinese warships well within the Philippines' exclusive economic zones, not to mention several incidents when Chinese vessels have opened fire on Vietnamese fishing boats and killed people.

For the Han chauvinists, an apology from the president of the Philippines is not enough. The Filipinos must grovel, be reminded that they, like Malays generally, are the serfs of the region. It fits well with the Hong Kong government's arrogant categorising of the country as in the same danger league as Syria because of the unnecessary loss of life in the bus hijacking incident.

The action of the Filipino coastguard was out of proportion, even assuming the fishing vessel was in Philippine waters and resisting arrest. But Taiwan's large, well-equipped fishing fleet is known almost worldwide for its contempt for others' fishing rights and the attempts to limit fishing to preserve species.
Bowring put his finger on one of the major obstacles here: so often in Han culture, winning must encompass not merely attainment of objectives but also humiliation of the opponent. Bowring's review of the issues is excellent and should be read in its entirety. The Economist also had a surprisingly good piece on the issue, from the PRC angle.

Finally, can't leave without mentioning this piece in the rabidly pro-Beijing WantWant China Times, which says the death of this fisherman could be a turning point....
Both Taiwan and the Philippines have long been allies of the United States. But the outcry in Taiwan over the killing could well push the country toward China, with Beijing only too happy to back Taiwan up.
It won't, but it shows the hopeful blindness of so many in the pro-Beijing crowd, always waiting for that incident that will at last make the Taiwanese realize their true destiny is with Beijing. Forever to be disappointed....

Taipei needs to walk things back, accept some kind of apology, compensate the widow quietly, and placate Manila. All this because if Taiwanese fishermen really need access to those waters, then the government should be moving to ensure that there is no long-term anger in in Philippines over this incident. Hopefully the adults in Taipei will stand up and be counted soon.....

PS: Latest TVBS poll from May 16 has Ma's approval still at 14% and his disapproval scores actually rising, to 70%. (Thanks, FM).
Allow me to take a few minutes to share with you the relations between the two countries. If you take a flight from Laoag, Ilocos Norte to Kaohsiung, Taiwan, it would take only 38 minutes, whereas a trip from Laoag to Manila would take 45 minutes. There is even a saying that goes: “When a cock crows in the most northern parts of Luzon, the people of southern Taiwan are likewise awakened.” It is also interesting to know that the people from Batanes and those from Orchid Island speak the same language. In addition, more than 50 percent of the typhoons that hit Taiwan are exported from the Philippines. From this, it is quite clear that Taiwan and the Philippines are indispensable to each other due to their exceptional geographical proximity. Oct, 2010.
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Sanity Break: Photos of Taiwan from before the Boom

For those of you wanting a sanity break from the Phils/Taiwan stupidity, has a great collection of photos taken in 1980.

Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Phils/Taiwan Mess Roundup 4: No animal has lower IQ than a nationalist mob screaming for blood

Looking back at his life, it seemed to him that he had been struggling all the time to dam a flood, which, whenever he had checked it, had broken through at a new place, setting him his work to do again. It was the flood of Force Majeur.

The image above is the kind of bullshit that is all over Facebook and the bulletin boards this week, a depressing cycle of stupidity and ignorance morally legitimated by nationalist posturing. The Taiwan media is awful. Most Taiwanese have no idea how their fisherman behave overseas or about any of the politics of the issue. They couldn't tell an EEZ from a hole in the ground. The government simply yanks their nationalist chains and off they go, even petitioning the White House in the best petitioning-the-emperor style in which Taiwanese conduct their foreign affairs. Stories are running around the net of Filipinos refused service (a hoax), and even a beating or two.

There are bullet holes in the front of the boat in that image. This suggests that the boat was head on toward the shooter when those shots were fired. What does that tell you about the Phils story their boat was about to be rammed? All wrong, according to pics provided by Taiwan government. See update below.

The government, while condemning Philippines as a bunch of irrational and backward savages...
Premier Jiang pointed out yesterday that Philippine institutions and methodologies differed greatly from ours. 
...Piously called upon the public to show great forbearance toward Pinoys in Taiwan. AP reported that Phils fears for its workers in Taiwan and advised them to eat indoors.

Bloomberg identified the right angle with a story on how this is really sublimated frustration with the incompetence and weakness of the Ma Administration, directed outward, as well as with Taiwan's weak and ambiguous place in the world....
The 60-year-old blamed Ma Ying-jeou, whose approval rating is 14 percent, for an economy that grew at one of the slowest rates in Asia last year, sparking January protests that helped trigger the resignation of Premier Sean Chen. When a Philippine patrol boat crew killed a Taiwanese fisherman a week ago, Liu and others found an outlet for their fear of being bypassed in Asia’s recovery.

“We’ve been frustrated for so long,” Liu said, adding Ma should be even tougher on the Philippines. “We’re so full of anger, so disappointed and dissatisfied with our government.”

Ma is seizing the moment to press President Benigno Aquino for a formal apology as Taiwan grocers pull Philippine goods from stores and travel agencies cancel trips, an approach that risks denting efforts to boost trade ties in Asia. His reaction may say more about Taiwan’s feeling of weakness in a region of emerging powers that don’t officially recognize its government.
Clever of the KMT to harness frustration at the President and Taiwan's international position and redirect at Manila. Just think, people can forget for a moment that wages are at late 1990s levels, that income is stagnating, that housing prices in Taipei and elsewhere are ridiculous, that income equality is getting worse, that the rich are largely untaxed, that the President is a failure in most areas of policy (unless you're rich) etc etc etc. Just need some smaller nation to bully and the national blood pressure will fall.....

...and the DPP has fallen in with this policy! They should be arguing that the apology should be accepted, that things should be resolved quietly instead of loudly (best for the fishermen!), and constantly pointing out how the KMT's policy of isolating Taiwan is backfiring here. The DPP should be pointing out that only China is benefiting from this spat (a hidden motive of the Administration?). And also how Ma is pissing off the US. This is a golden moment for the DPP to take the high road. Argh.

Meanwhile the Premier warned that the boycotts were there to stay.
After the announcement of eleven retaliatory measures against the Philippines, Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) sternly declared during yesterday’s Cabinet meeting that the ROC government would wage a prolonged boycott against the Philippines.

Premier Jiang pointed out yesterday that Philippine institutions and methodologies differed greatly from ours. He went on to say that the recent diplomatic row over the fatal shooting incident reflected the difficulties that the two sides had been experiencing in bilateral negotiations over the past several decades, adding that the ROC government’s recent decision to adopt a tougher attitude would mark a decisive turning point in the mode of interactions between Taiwan and the Philippines.
Finally, in the TT Paul Lin nails point after point, noting as many of have that the big winner is China:
The affair has revealed the sovereignty and human rights crises that Taiwan has found itself in with Ma at the helm and, unless things improve soon, these crises will only deepen. Since Taiwan’s sovereignty status problems are leading to human rights violations, the nation needs to reach out to the international community — in particular the US, which is “returning to Asia” — if it wants to turn things around. The US’ return to the region should not be only in a military sense, it also needs to be in terms of promoting universal human rights. This situation is more than just a standoff between two countries: It is a standoff between two opposing sets of values. However, since Ma took office and announced his “diplomatic truce” policy, Taiwan has had to keep silent in the international community.
Thanks to commenter RC on the first post on this for the link to this blog which analyzes the mess. It has an account of the story that rings true. I haven't checked it yet. But one point he makes is that the fishing boats were able to meet up with Taiwan CGA boats to escort them. Do the math. This means they had to have been chased for some period of time, enough to time for the CGA boats to come out to meet them. Which supports the Phils story of a long chase.....

I'm going to read The Once and Future King again. Are humans always doomed to behave like idiots? Is it forever going to be the case that a little dose of nationalism is going to induce amnesia about the incompetence of the government and the media?

UPDATE: Maddog flipped me the Taiwan government information. Bullet holes in the front are exit holes.

The bow:

The stern:

The cabin:

Port (stern section):

Port (bow section):

Deduced bullet trajectories (diagram):

… all found via this page:

I'm certainly not saying you should trust this government's version of the events, but do look at those images. The holes near the bow — note that there are only two — are marked as "exit" holes.

and this comment:

"Stories are running around the net of Filipinos refused service (a hoax)"

Why do you think the stories of Filipinos being refused service are a hoax? We've heard multiple stories from our local Filipino worker community here in Nanzih District, Kaohshiung. And there are newspaper reports of signs being put up at establishments in Changhua.

It actually looks more to me like there's an informal movement on Facebook to discredit the stories by repeating the "where's the evidence" line.

Evan, there was one particular tale of a Filipino who had waited an hour until some kind Taiwanese woman saved him. Hoax, apparently. Thanks for the pointers. Have images of the signs in Changhua?
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My birthday present

My daughter's birthday present to me. Isn't it wonderful?
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Thursday, May 16, 2013

Rounding up the Phils/Taiwan mess: Take 3 =UPDATED=

A spider awaits prey in the early morn in a field near my house.

Well, by now I'm sure you know that the Ma Administration rejected the Philippines apology as "lacking in sincerity" (yes, well Mr. President, that's a common problem with apologies extracted at gunpoint). Sanctions have now been imposed. The Taipei Times listed....
The eight measures proposed yesterday morning by the government after a national security meeting, are issuing a travel warning that discourages Taiwanese from traveling to the Philippines, the suspension of high-level meetings at the World Health Assembly, the suspension of economic exchanges, the suspension of cooperation on agriculture and fisheries, the suspension of cooperation on technology, the suspension of negotiations on air space rights, the suspension of the visa-free program for Philippine nationals and that Taiwan would hold military exercises in disputed waters.

The first wave of sanctions — the suspension of the hiring of Philippine workers, recalling Taiwan’s representative to the Philippines and sending the Philippine representative to Taiwan back to Manila — also took effect yesterday after the Philippine government failed to meet the Ma administration’s demands by the president’s deadline.
These are truly over the top. For example, there's no travel threat to Taiwanese in the Philippines. Meanwhile the Navy and the Coast Guard held exercises today in a show of force. Oz Soapbox has a detailed review of the whole apology mess with a bonus observation -- he thinks China is dictating the Philippines' response (I do not agree).

The sanctions will continue until (KMT news organ):
The Premier stressed that the 11 retaliatory measures would remain in effect until the Philippine government formally fulfilled the ROC’s four stern demands in a positive and concrete manner, i.e., the Philippine government must formally apologize, punish the culprit (s) and indemnify the family of the deceased and the owners of the fishing vessel for property damages, as well as begin fishery agreement negotiations as soon as possible. The Premier disclosed that the government was currently assessing whether or not to adopt stronger measures in a third wave of sanctions.
Me Tarzan! (thumps chest).

Lots of commenting and observations. Ben over at Letters from Taiwan notes how neatly Manila has used the One China policy, which Ma supports, to avoid talking to Taipei. Ma is actually playing into Beijing's hands....
More LOLs today as permanent Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) obviously didn’t get the memo from David Lin over at MOFA, that Beijing’s One China policy means a) China is not cooperating with Taiwan on the spat with the Philippines and b) is actively blocking attempts by Taiwan and the Philippines to sign a fishing agreement. Wang, instead, is pissed off that Philippines President Aquino has cited the One China principle as why the highest levels of his government cannot comment directly or speak to Taiwan on the issue of the shooting incident (or “blame Beijing because they don’t want us to talk to you Government to Government as equal bilateral international state actors”):

First, although I disagree with his acceptance of the toxic One China policy, Aquino is exactly correct in what he says. No amount of indignant exclamations to the contrary will change that fact. Perhaps Ma ‘The Constitutionalist’ Ying-jeou now understands what Chen felt like when he was similarly rebuffed and belittled in the international community. No wonder the KMT is up in arms given that they used to haul Chen across the coals for every slight against Taiwan’s international standing as evidence of his provocative ideological stance on simply stating that de facto independent Taiwan should be treated with some respect as a nation state. This is deeply deeply embarrassing for them. Furthermore, it belies the utter failure of the Ma’s diplomatic truce and mutual non-denial chimeras. Dear Wang, the Philippines can treat you that way and they are treating you that way and if you have a problem with it perhaps you should call the Presidential office to enquire how your Party’s President’s One China policy is not delivering any meaningful growth in Taiwan’s international presence or soft or hard power.
One should also note that Ma promised to be a peacemaker, not a troublemaker, when he took office years ago. Yet here he is cranking up temperatures with Manila for no reason other than to pander to the local electorate.

Of course Ma may also be nudging the island toward China by making it appear it has no friends but Beijing. I've commented many times on how Ma's longterm policy with the US and Manila and other potential friends is one of keeping things irritated, to isolate Taiwan and help tip it into Beijing's hands by creating doubt and resignation among Taiwan's population. My man Ben also posted a useful piece from Stratfor on how Taiwan's South China Sea policies and other policies in the area play into Beijing's hands. The relationship between the One China policy and this mess is so obvious that the Taiwan government was forced to publish a statement denying it.

Another possibility: note that one of the four demands of Taipei is the opening of fishery negotiations with Manila. Looks like they want to use the fisherman's death as moral leverage to gain this concession. But of course as long as Manila adheres to Beijing's version of the One China policy, negotiations might be a problem.

Finally, a commenter on another forum observed that Ma might well be trying to imitate Beijing's bullying of Manila over the Scarborough Shoal.

I'm also wondering if Ma would be more conciliatory if Filipinos weren't so brown-skinned.

And with all this deployment of the Navy and shuttling military and Coast Guard hither and yon, anyone hearing calls for increased military spending? LOL.

The US, as noted in the State Department briefing I posted below this, is not taking a side. I hope AIT has people in there telling Ma to calm down. Reps Steve Chabot, longtime Taiwan supporter, and Eni  Faleomavaega, who frequently takes Beijing's positions, both fired off a press release calling on Manila to apologize. Hmmm.... could it have something to do with the tuna canneries in Faleomavaega's district of American Samoa, whose longline tuna fisheries are operated by Taiwanese (and Koreans).

Speaking of which, the DPP is frothing at the mouth in its attempt to move to the right of the KMT on this issue. If only the party had shown some statesmanship, hewed to the center, and called for cooler heads until after the investigation was over. Lamenting this failure, Ben once again put it well...
Now here they are rightly pointing out that the Once China policy belittles Taiwanese sovereignty but refusing an apology that might defuse the situation.  It doesn’t get much more uncoordinated and Keystone Cops.  It’s almost as if there’s an election coming up.
Meanwhile, for some strange reason Manila is not rolling over for Taipei. A Philippines paper carried a Xinhua report that the government there has refused to let Taipei into the investigation of what happened in the incident. The government probably isn't much concerned because, as a Filipino news site observed:
The hiring freeze imposed by Taiwan against overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in the aftermath of the killing of fisherman Hung Shih-cheng in disputed waters should have no significant impact on the Philippine economy, a top government official and an economist both said Thursday.

“There are only around 2,500 Filipinos deployed monthly [to Taiwan],” Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz told GMA News Online in a phone interview on Thursday when asked to comment on a Taiwanese media report.

She said that imposing other sanctions, such as sending the OFWs back home, would do more harm to Taiwan's economy than the Philippines'.

Baldoz estimated that there are around 85,000 OFWs working in Taiwan, a mere 0.0085 percent of the estimated 10 million Filipino workers around the world.

Of the 85,000, some 75 percent work in the manufacturing industry. The rest work in the personal service sector or in the fishing industry as fishermen.

Pulling out Filipino workers could make an impact on Taiwan's economy, especially the manufacturing industry, where they dominate the specialized work force, said Baldoz. There are Filipinos who have set up manufacturing and production companies there, she added.

“I don't think this [the job freeze] will be very significant economically,” agreed University of Asia and the Pacific senior economist Victor Abola, citing Taiwan's contribution to remittance and foreign direct investments (FDI).

“Investments or trade could be delayed, but that's just it. This is not something we will lose sleep about,” the economist added.
Aquino has been winning points among his own voters for his handling of foreign affairs, according to some reports I have read. There seems to be little incentive for Manila to kow-tow.

UPDATE: Forbes makes same point. Filipinos work in high tech where they are prized for, among others, their English skills. Also, this morning a friend and university prof told me the financial aid for his Phils grad students has been canceled. *sigh*

Finally, speaking of tensions, the drip-drip-drip against Okinawa continues. Global Times of China says that China should support Okinawan independence. Looking forward to that moment not far from now when Beijing starts diddling with Okinawan visas.

REFS: Interesting paper on military oversight of the Taiwanese fishing industry in the martial law era.
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State Department Brief May 15, Taiwan section on Phils/Taiwan clash

A walkway along a section of the old Hengchun city wall.

State Department Daily Press Briefing, May 15, 2013. Main questioner, I heard, was John Zhang of CTITV


MR VENTRELL: It looks like we have some questions maybe on the Philippines and Taiwan. (Laughter.) I’m just guessing.

QUESTION: Yeah. Patrick, do you have anything new to say on the fatal shooting of the Taiwanese fisherman by the Philippines? Jen said a couple of days ago that the United States was in contact with both Taiwan and the Philippines. How is your communication with both sides? How effective is your communication? Because the problem seems to be far from ending. Thank you.

MR. VENTRELL: Thanks for the question – John, am I correct?


MR. VENTRELL: Thanks, John. So, we’re concerned by the increase in tensions between two neighboring democracies and close partners of the United States in the Asia Pacific region. We note that the Philippine President appointed a personal representative to Taiwan to convey his deep regret and apology to the family of the fisherman and the people of Taiwan. We welcome the Philippine Government’s pledge to conduct a thorough and expeditious investigation into the incident and cooperate promptly and fully with Taiwan investigators. We urge the Philippines and Taiwan to take all appropriate measures to clarify disagreements and prevent recurrence of such tragic events. And we continue to urge both parties to ensure maritime safety and to refrain from actions that could further escalate tensions in the region and undermine the prospects for a rapid and effective resolution of differences.

QUESTION: How is your communication with both sides so far?

MR. VENTRELL: You know that these are partners with whom we have extensive relationships. I’m not going to get into the day-to-day readout of our diplomacy, whether it’s from Washington or our posts overseas. But I’m just not going to get into that level of detail.

QUESTION: Patrick, just about some factual data, is it – have you learned exactly the location of the incident? And when the investigation will be revealed to the public? So far, how much fact have you learned?

MR. VENTRELL: I don’t have any information on when the investigation may be completed, and refer you to the Government of the Philippines. But it appears the incident took place in or near disputed waters where the Philippines and Taiwan both claim fishing rights. The United States does not take a position on the proper location of a maritime boundary in that area.

QUESTION: What is “in or near disputed area” – so it’s disputed whether it’s in disputed area or not?

MR. VENTRELL: I mean, again, that’s a pretty rough estimate.

QUESTION: Can’t you just say it’s in disputed area then?

MR. VENTRELL: Again, this is in or near disputed waters. That’s all the accuracy we – that’s all the level of detail we have.

QUESTION: And that’s everywhere in the world, correct?

MR. VENTRELL: (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Everywhere in the water, it must be in or at some point near to disputed waters. (Laughter.)

MR. VENTRELL: The point is, Brad, we’re not able to pinpoint exactly whether it was inside the disputed waters or --

QUESTION: It was in the water.

MR. VENTRELL: -- or very nearby that disputed area.


MR. VENTRELL: That’s the point. Bingru, go ahead.

QUESTION: Taiwanese leader Ma Ying-jeou actually rejected the Philippines apology as lacking sincerity. Do you consider Philippines apology is sincere?

MR. VENTRELL: Well, again, in terms of an apology, this is a determination for the Taiwan authorities to make, and they can discuss that as appropriate directly with the Government of the Philippines. So that’s a judgment that they’re making.

QUESTION: And you also mentioned your concern about the increase tension. Are you concerned this conflict, as it’s rising, would undermine the U.S. interest in Asia Pacific?

MR. VENTRELL: Again, I’m not going to draw sort of that broad a conclusion, other than to say that we’re concerned about this increase in tension. And so these are two partners that we have a robust relationship with both of them and we want them to work through their differences on this issue as expeditiously as they can.

QUESTION: So, to what level do you have contact with both side?

MR. VENTRELL: I already answered that question, that we have diplomatic discussions, but I’m just not going to get into the back-and-forth of every discussion at every level.

QUESTION: Patrick, the death of the Taiwanese fisherman was a main factor why there has been outrage all over Taiwan. The United States has expressed regret over the death of the fisherman. Would the United States express something more than regret? Sympathy or – because, after all, Taiwan is an ally of the United States, as you say.

MR. VENTRELL: It is up to the Philippines and Taiwan to determine the specific terms of the resolution on this immediate issue. We’ve said we have already on the specific incident.

Nike, you go ahead. You’ve been waiting in the back.

QUESTION: Yeah. Patrick, you mentioned several times about maritime security. Broadly speaking, is it against the code of conduct or the freedom of navigation to use violence against any party in disputed waters?

MR. VENTRELL: Well, code of conduct is something that’s still being worked through, and it’s something we’ve encouraged, so that there are rules of the road. And so this is not something that is a process that’s been completed, but it’s precisely incidents such as this which underscore the need for a code of conduct as we work through these issues in the wide range of the Pacific where there are disputed areas of territorial waters and other claims to various territories.

QUESTION: Well, Patrick, there are some story indicated that U.S. has dissuaded Taiwan to send a military ship to protect their fishermen. And – so I would just wonder, do you want it clarified, does U.S. really involve in this kind of conversation? And – because there is some criticism from Taiwan about a U.S. action.

MR. VENTRELL: Yeah, I’m not aware – I don’t have any information on that one way or another on that specific item. I think I’ve done what I can on this issue. Are there – one more.

QUESTION: Yeah. Taiwan says apology from Philippine over the shooting is inadequate, and threatens to impose more sanctions. How do you see these sanctions?

MR. VENTRELL: I already answered that question. So, okay.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MR. VENTRELL: Different topic?


MR. VENTRELL: Nike, go ahead.

QUESTION: Yeah. I apologize if this issue has already been addressed, because I’m a little late. Secretary Kerry is in Sweden for the Arctic Council --


QUESTION: -- and today six countries, including China, Japan, South Korea, have become – has become the permanent observer. And so I wonder if you have anything on that. What is the rationale for the United States to support China’s permanent observer status, and what does the United States expect from China in the Arctic Council? Thank you.

MR. VENTRELL: Well, the Secretary already spoke to this pretty extensively, so we’ll get you his comments and reaction. You know that the chairmanship will go to Canada for the next two years, and then we look forward to the U.S. having the chairmanship here, and that these additional observers were added. But I really don’t have any information beyond what the Secretary said.

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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Ma Polls Down

At Tianzhong Station.

It seems almost superfluous to say so, but the President is deeply unpopular. FocusTaiwan says....
President Ma Ying-jeou's approval rating has fallen to 21 percent from 23 percent a year ago, according to a United Daily News poll conducted as Ma nears the end of the first year of his second term in office. He was sworn in on May 20, 2012.

Disapproval of Ma's performance rose from 66 percent to 70 percent during the same period, the poll results showed.

Although the government continues to trumpet the economy as its top priority, its efforts have been found lacking, with 76.4 percent of respondents saying they were not satisfied with the current economic situation in Taiwan.
UDN is rabidly pro-KMT. Taiwan Thinktank had similar but slightly lower numbers out the other day. Both pan-Blue and pan-Green polling organizations are getting similar numbers. According to the UDN poll Ma's strong suit is foreign policy and his weakness is the economy.

Mustn't read much into this. Next year's local elections will be contested on local issues with some influence from Ma's low numbers. Ma and the KMT will again have the strong support of the monied classes since no serious progress has been made on Taiwan's wealth gap, income inequality, or tax unfairness. But slumping domestic numbers go a long way to explain why Ma has come on "tough" against the Philippines in incident of the dead fisherman.

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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

More on the Phils/Taiwan Fisherman Mess

Delivering veggies in Tsaotun

The Taiwan Coast Guard has a couple of reports on its website about this (like to thank the anonymous commenter on a previous post). This one says the shooting occurred at "approximately 164 nautical miles south-east of Eluanbi (latitude 20 degrees 07 minutes east longitude 123 degrees 01 minutes)". The CNA graphic complete with a bit of unseemly nationalistic blood, has it located....

It is difficult for me to look at that graphic and not see the Taiwanese boats as operating in Philippines waters. In fact (read on below!) Manila has it in a slightly different location. Fortunately the CNA went out and solicited the unbiased opinions of experts from Taiwan who assured us the Taiwan boats were operating legally:
Hu Nien-tsu, director of National Sun Yat-sen University's Center for Marine Policy Studies, said that according to Article 51 of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, as a neighboring country to the Philippines, Taiwan's fishing boats have rights to legally operate in the Bashi Channel as well as rights to exercise their traditional fishing rights within the Philippines' archipelagic waters.

The article stipulates that an archipelagic state shall "recognize traditional fishing rights and other legitimate activities of the immediately adjacent neighboring states in certain areas falling within archipelagic waters."

Hu said that when disputes arise, it is necessary for the Philippines to reach bilateral agreements with Taiwan.

Liu Fu-kuo, a researcher at National Chengchi University's Institute of International Relations, also said that the Philippine coast guard officials' decision to fire at the Taiwanese fishing boat is against international law and other laws related to the sea.
Here is Article 51 of UNCLOS.
1. Without prejudice to article 49, an archipelagic State shall respect existing agreements with other States and shall recognize traditional fishing rights and other legitimate activities of the immediately adjacent neighbouring States in certain areas falling within archipelagic waters. The terms and conditions for the exercise of such rights and activities, including the nature, the extent and the areas to which they apply, shall, at the request of any of the States concerned, be regulated by bilateral agreements between them. Such rights shall not be transferred to or shared with third States or their nationals.
The Taipei Times, in an empty and jingoistic editorial the other day, also referred to UNCLOS.
By opening fire on the Taiwanese fishing boat and killing the fisherman, the Philippines has violated the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, which bans use of force against any unarmed fishing boat. The Ma administration should not passively wait for “positive responses” from the Philippines.
This pious reference to UNCLOS is somewhat ironic, given that the Republic of China is not a signatory (Wiki).

The editorial refers to the South China Sea and disputed waters, but the area in question is not either. Bringing up tensions and mixing up waters east of the Philippines with waters west of them is simply an attempt to snow the reader with appeals to nationalist emotions. Sad.

I got to wondering about the whole "traditional fishing grounds" claim, which is popping up in the media. Here is a paper on the history of longline tuna fishing in Taiwan. It notes:
When tuna longlining fishing was first introduced to the Toko and Takao fishing ports, local fishers only used sail-powered boats in coastal waters. They even believed, wrongly, that sail powered longliners were more suitable to harvest tuna than motored vessels. However, the situation gradually changed after the mid-1910s when Taiwan’s tuna fishing industry gradually expanded its fishing territories to greater distances which only motored vessels could reach.
Prior to the Japanese period, ships from Taiwan were not motored and did not go far from Taiwan's coastal waters. It was the Japanese who encouraged the development of the industry, and drove its southward extension, which reached 250 miles from Taiwan only in 1928, according to the paper.

This is worth stating out loud, and it applies to the Senkakus as well: these do not appear to be "traditional" fishing grounds. Neither are the Senkakus. Both became accessible to Taiwanese only after the Japanese introduced motor technology to local fishermen and encouraged Taiwanese fisherman to venture further south. Taiwanese fishing in Philippines waters is an extension of Japanese colonial policy. The idea that they are "traditional" is simply a way to do an end run around UNCLOS so Taiwanese fisherman can continue to poach fish in other people's waters -- and in the Senkakus case, attempt to buttress China's claim to the Senkakus.

It should be mentioned that Japan and the Philippines both have formal defense treaties with Uncle Sam.

Meanwhile the President continues to demand that Manila give... (KMT news organ).
The 72-hour deadline set by President Ma for the Philippines will expire at midnight today. It demands an official response about the incident involving a machine gun shooting on the ROC fishing vessel Guang Da Xing No. 28 (廣大興28號) by a Philippine coast guard cutter, killing its skipper Hung Shih-cheng (洪石成). During interpellations in the Legislative Yuan yesterday, Foreign Minister David Lin (林永樂), stated that according to the information that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) had on hand, the government of the Philippines would issue a statement in response to Taiwan’s demands, explaining Manila’s position on the issue today.
The "tough" response of Taipei should be set against the more mild responses from Beijing to the deaths of its fisherman at the hands of South Korea and Russia in the last couple of years, a sharp observer of Taiwan pointed out. The government's demands are (CNA):
Taiwan has demanded a formal apology from the Philippines, compensation for the victim's family, an investigation into the incident and punishment for the perpetrators, as well as open fishery agreement talks with Taiwan as soon as possible.

If Manila does not issue an appropriate response by midnight Tuesday, the government said it will "immediately" suspend the processing of applications by Filipinos seeking employment in Taiwan, recall its representative to the Philippines and demand that the Philippines' representative to Taiwan return to Manila.
Taipei has already done that before, in 2011, as I noted in the post below. In fact some people are wondering aloud whether this is payback for that humiliation Manila handed Taipei two years ago. In 2006 Philippines Coast Guard boats killed another Taiwanese sailor.

The Manila Times had a report from AFP, the Philippines press being occupied with the elections there:
But Philippine coastguard spokesman Commander Armand Balilo said the incident took place in Philippine waters and the Filipino personnel had been properly carrying out their duties to stop illegal fishing.

"If somebody died, they deserve our sympathy but not an apology," Balilo told reporters.

Balilo said the incident happened just north of the main Philippine island of Luzon in the Balintang channel, which is part of the Philippines' territory and not claimed by any other country or Taiwan.

"This is part of Philippine waters," he said.

Balilo said the 30-metre (100-foot) coastguard vessel initially saw two fishing vessels and tried to approach them. He said the coastguard crew fired at the smaller of the two vessels after it tried to ram the Filipino boat.

"They fired at the machinery to disable it. They were able to disable the vessel although they were not aware at the time that somebody had been hit," he said.

Balilo said the coastguard quickly left the area after it saw a third vessel, "a big white ship", come into view.

"Our people felt threatened so they left the area," he said.
Note that the two nations locate the incident in different though close places. President Aquino appealed for calm in Taipei.

Taiwan media are reporting that there is going to be a joint investigation. Let's hope there's a video out there that can help settle this mess.

Scary and sad, so many times when I look at pieces in English about this mess, I see little or nothing about the Philippines' claim that the boat was trying to ram the Philippine Coast Guard vessel (China Post, Commentary in TT). Merely the summary that the fisherman was shot. It's as if the Philippines vessel had no motive for its action.....

The KMT news piece had a comically sad comment at the end....
In addition, Minister Lin also pointed out that the Mainland was not a positive factor in the matter of concluding a Taiwan-Philippines fisheries agreement, adding that one of the main reasons that Taipei and Manila had failed to conclude an agreement after five rounds of fisheries talks was precisely the “One China factor.” He noted that the Philippines was rather concerned about the Mainland’s views, adding that, “the Mainland has not given us a helping hand in this matter.
What? Beijing not helping Taipei in an international agreement? Who could have predicted that?

REFS: J Michael Cole's piece in The Diplomat, which mentions another aspect: an ongoing cyberwar between hackers from both countries.
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