Unless you've been living in a cave or a foreign country, it's been impossible to miss the unseemly mess over the death of a Taiwanese fisherman at the hands of Philippines Coast Guard sailors. Let's roll that news:
(A Taipei Times report)
A total of 52 bullet holes were found on the Kuang Ta Hsing No. 28, Liu Chia-kai (劉嘉凱) from the Pingtung District Prosecutors’ Office, said after examining the 15-tonne vessel that is registered in Liouciou Township (琉球), Pingtung County.My man Ben observes:
Investigators found 10 holes on the port side, where the bullets penetrated parts of the boat that are quite thick. This means they may have been fired from “heavy weapons,” such as machine guns, Liu said.
Taiwanese fisherman Hung Shih-cheng (洪石成), 65, was killed when the Philippine Coast Guard vessel opened fire in the incident on Thursday.
Prosecutors said Hung was killed by a bullet that penetrated the right side of his neck. Liu has asked that Hung’s body be taken to Kaohsiung for forensic examination.
Neither too did this tragedy just happen absent any historical trend. Conflicts between Taiwanese boats and Filipino fishing boats and the Philippines Coast Guard have been escalating in this same area for a number of years, most usually around the time of the tuna fishing season.Ben's observations are spot on and his post should be read in its entirety. The mess has been escalated by our Golden Retriever media in Taiwan, which adopts the attitude of China (several locals I spoke to made this comparison) and seldom criticizes the actions of Taiwan abroad. I doubt many Taiwanese are really aware of the way Taiwanese fishing boats plunder the waters of other nations (I reviewed their behavior last year in this long post). Ben notes that this context is vital to understanding this incident... For example: "gang-rape of tuna" in Philippines waters shows how large the stakes are....
“Let us say there are eight fishing vessels that regularly poach in the waters of Aurora province daily from January to July, that means a total haul of 27,000 tons of tuna per factory ship during the period or 216,000 metric tons of tuna for all eight fishing vessels regardless if they are Japanese, Korean or Taiwanese," Hicap said.Such poaching also has another negative effect on Philippines: Taiwan longliners dump their hauls in local markets in the Philippines, driving down prices and hurting local producers, according to this paper.
According to Pamalakaya’s computation, the owners of the eight fishing vessels could have earned as much as $ 1.274 billion, or $160 million per fishing vessel, in just six months from tuna poaching in Aurora and other tuna-rich waters of the Philippines.
In any case, President Ma Ying-jeou delivered an inevitable ultimatum to the Philippines government, politically necessary since the local press was in a typical frenzy...
The administration of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday gave the Philippines 72 hours to arrest those responsible for the death of a Taiwanese fisherman, issue a formal apology and compensate the victim’s family.Since Taipei can seriously hurt Manila by denying applications for workers (and it has done that before, in 2011 over the deportation incident -- see below), it seems likely Manila will bow to the inevitable. The President did provide one moment of crass comedy when he asked for ten seconds of silence on behalf of the dead Taiwanese fisherman and then counted down the seconds out loud.
If Manila failed to respond to these demands within 72 hours, the government will freeze Philippine worker applications, recall the Republic of China (ROC) representative in Manila and ask the Philippine representative to return to Manila to help in the investigation, Presidential Office spokesperson Lee Chia-fei (李佳霏) told a news conference last night following a national security meeting presided over by Ma.
China jumped into the dispute, issuing condemnation of Philippines, the "most barbaric" country in the South China Sea. LOL. But this move highlights how, though there is no evidence for overt cooperation between Beijing and Taipei in fostering Chinese territorial expansion, situations like this give Beijing the opportunity to push such claims and to further prop up its claim to Taiwan, and give the appearance of cooperation between Taipei and Beijing, an important propaganda goal of Beijing. This propaganda campaign, as J Michael observes, is then picked up by local critics of Ma as if it were real, further helping Beijing.
Some of you might recall the 2011 flap over the deportation of Taiwanese fraudsters from Philippines to China (long post with many links). In that incident, Taipei put into place a go-slow on worker applications. Manila-Taipei relations, as that post noted, are not in good shape despite the economic links between the two nations.
- China's escalating claims on its neighbors, from Heritage
- Long piece on the history and growth of Taiwan's tuna fishing, but no mention of conflicts with other nations.
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