Sunday, May 12, 2013

Irritated Bellow Syndrome: Taiwan fisherman killed by Philippine Coast Guard, Media Feeding Frenzy Ensues

A couple of herons contemplate eastern Taichung, and are not impressed.

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.

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.
My man Ben observes:
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.

Watchers of the region will also have noted that the Philippines got a very figuratively bloody nose last year when the Chinese, using fishing boats which were then augmented by ‘Maritime Surveillance’ vessels and PLAN ships, literally invaded and occupied the Scarborough Shoal effectively annexing the area that is roughly 220km from the Filipino mainland.  This timeline shows that the spat between China and the Philippines over the Scarborough Shoal has a long history. It could be then that the PCG personnel on board the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) vessel that confronted Hung’s boat were over zealous, keen not to be embarrassed again.  This fatal incident, deriving from an almost annual showdown over access to valuable catch, might then be seen as an act of aggression displacement.  Not being able to displace the Chinese from their waters, they may have projected that frustration onto Taiwanese boats instead.  The difference in these incidents is that Scarborough Shoal is much closer to the Filipino mainland than the area in which the Hung shooting took place.  There is therefore lots of room for interpretation of whether the BFAR vessel had any authority to act in the area.  
As usual, with international incidents of this nature, there are multiple competing accounts of what happened and where.  Largely absent in the Taiwanese media is the claim by the PCG that Hung’s boat was one of four that were accosted and which refused to leave.  Also absent is their claim that Hung rammed his boat repeatedly into the BFAR vessel.   It boggles the mind, given all the brinkmanship by fishermen, Coast Guard and pseudo-naval vessels in the South and East China Seas in the last three years, that someone was not recording events on camera for evidence in this incident.  The Philippines certainly did not help their case when they initially denied being the area and then admitted firing on the craft.  That does not lend an air of credibility to their version of events but since there seems to be no video (or none made available to the media) the confrontation remains at the level of ‘he said, she said’.  
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.

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.
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.

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.

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.
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.

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.

RELATED:
  • 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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33 comments:

Anonymous said...

I can understand the Taiwanese' sense of rage over this barbaric killing. It comes as the latest of a string of killings/abductions committed by filipimnos on Taiwanese nationals. first, u had the baby Wang kidnapping/murder by the Pnoy nanny; then, the hacking murder of Chiu meiyun by Armia. Pnoy culture is very violent. Since 1992, there has been a flood of abductions/ murder of Chinese-Filipinos, sometimes @ rate of 250 incidents/year. Ben Tan's holdup gone awry killing by a gunman on motorbike, using military grade machine guns brings to mind the constant harassment of phil citizens of Chinese/taiwanse ethnicity. Ben's killer is still on the loose, & is suspected to b trained by US troops.

Michael Turton said...

Yes, but anon, I doubt many Taiwanese remember or link these incidents. Is the media referring to them?

Mike Fagan said...

To an outside observer, it might seem like the Asian countries are approximating the behaviour of the European countries in the early 20th century - and without even having learned anything about this period in their history classes at school! It's quite impressive when you think about it really.

Michael Turton said...

I think the 17th is the more appropriate century, with China = France and the US = Spain.

Mike Fagan said...

Nationalism as the opinion-oxygen to fuel the military buildup prior to the first world war; this was not a distinguishing feature of 17th century Europe.

Anonymous said...

Correction: the coast guard is different fron the navy.

So naturally, the navy would deny it.

The coast guard did admit it

There is no initial denial then admission

The navy is military and andthe coast guard is a CIVILIAN Agency

It helps to research Philippine agency structure and geography

To make things worse, in 2005 Taiwanese illegal were caught and fined in tbe Visayas.

Whyis not the Taiwanese cautioning their fishermen to not cross other countries seas?

Another things making it worse. Taiwanese politicians and media are now saying it is a "disputed area" when it is not. It is within the Balintang channel shich is south of ghe Batanes province

Even the Taiwanese Coast guard reports it happened outside the Taiwan control area.

The killing was accidental and a result of the arrogance of Chinese fishermen. It was aimed at the machine, not the People as the Chinese/Taiwanese imply. If it were aimed at the people, they would all be dead.

And now Taiwan is demanding fishing rights in Philippine terrirory. Outrageous. That has been amicably settled in 1993. And the boundary between the two is the Bashi channel

Wht are the Taiwanese not telling their fishermen not to get into other countries maritime territory

Anonymous said...

Which part of Exclusive Economic Zone you dont understand? How can you say it overlaps when it's exclusive?

Taiwan boats regularly poach in Philippine waters. A lot are drug traffickers, poachers and petty criminals. The Philippine Coast Guard wouldn't have shot the criminals if the Taiwan boat did not ram the BFAR vessel right inside undisputed Philippine territory.

A quick search on Google would tell you that Batanes isn't a disputed area. But I guess that's typical of the East Asians- steal, lie and cheat.

Anonymous said...

With regard to the area where it happened (Balintang Channel), just basic googling would show it is indeed well inside Philippine territory. But it befuddles me when a lot of Taiwanese posters ignore this fact and obstinately present their map version that even shows our northernmost province Batanes island being included within Taiwanese boundaries as demarcated by a red line or is conveniently faded out digitally to make it appear the incident happened in the "overlapping" economic zones (as seen on Taiwanese media reports).

As to the shooting itself of "unarmed" civilians, wasnt the boat itself used as a weapon when it tried to ram the coast guard vessel? In those treacherous waters, this is a dangerous act that threatens the boat and lives of the crewmen.

I had gathered the a video of the incident do exist but right now is witheld from the public while a joint Phil-Taiwan investigation is about to be conducted. I hope release of this will finally sort out all conflicting stories.

Michael Turton said...

Man, it would be great if a video were released. And your other points are well taken.

Anonymous said...

To Mr. Blogger, Read and know first the Philippine Geography and History before you write a Blog.. Dopnt't be biased to your adopted Country Taiwan. Taiwanese are blood brother's of Chinese.. you know what I mean.

Anonymous said...

I hate to bring China-Taiwan politics into this, but I can't help but think that if China had been responsible for an incident such as this (instead of the Philippines,) the Taiwanese governmental response would probably be much more muted out of fear of offending China.

Anonymous said...

to the anonymous commenter who did enumerate a number of alleged atrocities to chinese/taiwanese. What you mentioned are isolated cases and most probably done out of poverty. Have you seen recent events in the US? the mass killings and massacres. In any given country, just google it and you will see many brutal activities but you only single out the Philippines because of one fisherman's death which was regretful but was not brutal and in my opinion is justified. Just in the recent weeks and months, groups of Taiwanese were caught running a sex den in the southern part of the Philippines. Drug factories and dens run by Taiwanese are raided in different parts of the Philippines are common. How about Filipina workers being raped in Taiwan. And don't make it sound like ethnic Chinese are oppressed in the Philippines. The filthy rich there are the ethnic Chinese.

Anonymous said...

Boat Operation:Time: 05.00Coordinate: 19' 50" N; 123' 24" E10 nm outside Taiwan control border

Incident:Time: 09.45Coordinate: 19' 58" N; 122' 58" E1.8 nm outside Taiwan control border

Incident Reported to Taiwan Authority:Time: 13.04Coordinate: 20' 07" N; 123' 01" E5 nm insider Taiwan control border

GA.GOV.TW - link

That should tell you who was where they were'nt supposed to be.

Anonymous said...

http://img202.imageshack.us/img202/4060/capturetnw.png

http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7300/8733681087_66ca4407fb_b.jpg

Really? Taiwan area? You must be blind to think this is in Taiwan.

Anonymous said...

From TAIWAN COAST GUARD...

Boat Operation:Time: 05.00Coordinate: 19' 50" N; 123' 24" E10 nm outside Taiwan control border

Incident:Time: 09.45Coordinate: 19' 58" N; 122' 58" E1.8 nm outside Taiwan control border

Incident Reported to Taiwan Authority:Time: 13.04Coordinate: 20' 07" N; 123' 01" E5 nm insider Taiwan control border.

seems the incident was indeed a poaching , illegal trespassing activity..and i Heard news that the SAME crew of the same patrol boat has rescued many times in the past indistress TAIWANESE fishermen regardless if they drifted accidentally to phil water or broke down while poaching. You to take this a grain of salt..WHAT LED to the SHOOTING incident..THERE MUST BE A HEAVY REASON...and as per their report THE BOAT try to RAMMED the patrol boat...IS the Taiwanese Skipper question (is he drunk, on drugs thats why he made poor decision that led to the death of one of his crew)

Anonymous said...

http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/nation/05/10/13/taiwan-philippines-probe-fishermans-killing

A state's exclusive economic zone starts at the seaward edge of its territorial sea and extends outward to a distance of 200 nautical miles (370.4 km) from the baseline.

as the incident happen 164 nautical miles off Taiwan's southeastern coast. and in an area 43 nautical miles east of the Balintang Islands in the northern Philippines.

the reason why philippines did not settle this issue is because they don't acknowledge taiwan as a country and in can't be called exclusive zone since from balintan islands 200 nautical miles will cover 3/4 of the whole taiwan, which means taiwan can't even set sail, that's why its called disputed area. taiwan did urge philippine to settle but was met with deaf ears. then 1994 agreement? is only an understanding between taiwan and the philippines that naval ships will not cross that line, but not fishing ships, even so only taiwan cares about that line, philippine don't acknowledge it since they claim again that taiwan is not a soverign country, only now when incidents happen that they brought it up, and you can ready in the link from philippine news, now philippine is claiming "two fishing ship". and previously they claim only warning shots were fired into the air, but now (Isorena said his men used a .30 caliber light machinegun and M-16 and M-14 assault rifles, "but we don't know how many rounds were fired.") don't look into a new with one side of the story

Anonymous said...

I think this time the Philippines will not bow down to the Taiwanese. Times have changed. The government is fully supported by the people as you can see with the election results from yesterday. The economy is in better condition, and the dependency on sending foreign labor abroad is getting less every year. You add to that the shame they got from China just last year, and other territorial issues. The military is requesting several ships worth $12 billion that can match the Taiwanese navy if approved. I think the time of belittling the Philippines is about to end.

max said...

Taiwan needs more friends than enemies, with their situation as a non-UN recognized state plus the threat from China, they are more than stupid to make a friendly co-US ally neighbor as an enemy. The Philippines treat this issue as a minor incident, you can't even see this in the headline news. The US did not even condemn the Philippines for the incident.

Let Taiwan blow this thing and make 1 friendly neighbor as an enemy. Also give the Philippines a reason to uparm itself so the already declining and reducing Taiwanese forces will be divided into defending more areas at a time.

James said...

@To one of the many (what a surprise) anonymouses who posted this on May 13, 2013 at 9:55 PM: "To Mr. Blogger, Read and know first the Philippine Geography and History before you write a Blog.. Dopnt't be biased to your adopted Country Taiwan."

Did you read the post? If so, you clearly didn't take much on board. Not sure how on earth you could see this as a 'biased' whitewashing of the Taiwanese actions. quite the opposite, I'd say.

Try reading and understanding fully before spouting gibberish.

Robert R. said...

A state's exclusive economic zone starts at the seaward edge of its territorial sea and extends outward to a distance of 200 nautical miles (370.4 km) from the baseline.

as the incident happen 164 nautical miles off Taiwan's southeastern coast. and in an area 43 nautical miles east of the Balintang Islands in the northern Philippines.

the reason why philippines did not settle this issue is because they don't acknowledge taiwan as a country and in can't be called exclusive zone since from balintan islands 200 nautical miles will cover 3/4 of the whole taiwan,


Wow, there's some silliness in there. Your measurements state that a 200km EEZ would overlap for most of the distance. Not particularly "exclusive"
(And don't know how you get that 3/4 of Taiwan #).

But EEZ only extends 200km if it doesn't bump into another EEZ. In this case I'd think the EEZ boundary will be equidistant from both land masses...
Since the boat was closer to the Philippines than Taiwan, it's in Filipino EEZ waters.

Anonymous said...

To the Anon who posted at 12:23 PM.

Actually, it is not only "now" that Isorena is saying there are two fishing vessels. You can see the date from the link you provided, the news was posted on 05/10/2013 8:30 PM. That's one day after the incident, some 4 days ago, not only "now", as you've been saying.

The reason why you, and I suspect most of Taiwan, didn't hear about it is because of the selective reporting being done by the Taiwan media. And there are other details which the Taiwan media chose most conveniently to ignore. I think people should look at media reports from both sides to keep a fair mind, keep the chronology of reports in order, and avoid being misled by a single source, which will only result in more misunderstanding and premature finger-pointing.

Please wait for the investigation results to come out before passing judgments. I think that's only fair to ask.

yankdownunder said...

http://jen.jiji.com/jc/i?g=eco&k=2013051400711

Taiwanese Boat Seized in Japan's EEZ off Southwestern Isle

The seizure marks the first since a fishing pact took effect last Friday ...

The first of many I think.

Juba59 said...

Nice to see so many intelligent comments about this incident, in contrast to the irrationality going on elsewhere. Would anyone like to write to the Taipei Times about it? Letters[at]taipeitimes[dot]com

Juba59 said...

Philippines government apology, Wednesday 15 May 2013: http://www.sunstar.com.ph/breaking-news/2013/05/15/aquino-apologizes-death-taiwanese-fisherman-282499

Anonymous said...

"I can understand the Taiwanese' sense of rage over this barbaric killing."

Why call it barbaric killing when there was no intent to shoot a person? Afaik, the PCG took shot at the boats engine to disable it and if a person happens to be there is only collateral damage.

Anonymous said...

"to the anonymous commenter who did enumerate a number of alleged atrocities to Chinese/taiwanese"....

What a lie.... in most of the cases of kidnappings in PI were instigated and planned by either the military or the local police often with dead aim shooting
skills learned from US trainings..

That's why my 1st instinct reaction to this news was, oh no... it must be an extortion ploy by these guards. That's why the PCG doesn't even have cameras for their 'surveillance ' boats. Don't want to record corruption in progress.

Anonymous said...

Robert R., 200nmi from Mavudis island, the northernmost island of the Philippines will indeed cover almost the entire Formosa Island, until Nanao in the east and Penghu Islands in the west and the waters off Tainan. Use maps to verify and measure. Taiwan's 200nmi from Orchid Island is just off the coast of Northern Luzon (Ilocos Norte and Cagayan provinces) and waters off Batanes and Camiguin group of islands. From what I see the Philippines will benefit if it agrees to the overlaps, Filipino fishing boats can fish off Penghu and Tainan...

Anonymous said...

Except Philippines wont catch anything in Taiwanese waters.

Why do you think Taiwanese(and chinese) have to venture out further into other countries' waters to fish?

Anonymous said...

@2:36
The fishermen were in their rights to be fishing there. Even assuming they were too close to the border and may have strayed into Philippine claimed territory -- only by a fraction of a degree (which is permissible) -- this action taken by the PCG on overlapping waters is overkill; and tantamount to CALLOUS IMMORALITY !!!

This lethal overreaction is in violation of the UNCLOS agreement to which the Philippines is a signatoree. A tiny fishing boat with 4 crew members, how much fish can they catch as price for their lives. It's not like the Filipinos have enough commercial capacity and capabilities to exploit fully their resources to the extent of every corner of their claimed territory. They still do a lot of blast fishing, you know.

Now contrast this to the slap on the wrist response to the recent American transgression in Tubbataha Reef, which caused irreversible destruction of priceless coral reefs. Those corals destroyed by, of all names, the USSGuardian, will not grow back again. The vessel entered w/o permit, failed to coordinate w local pols about its passing, wc is contrary to protocol. 8 rangers on patrol couldnt even come near it as it was on general quarters (alarm), meaning the crew was prepped for battle or imminent damage.

No American was chased, arrested or irrationally killed for the violation of sovereignty, or the permanent damaging of a precious world heritage site in the Philippines, or the callous use of Philippine resources for the crew's R&R. According to a local solon, the American sailors went off into the water to swim and get closer view of the pretty corals, against the warnings of a park ranger. This kind of contempt was not met by wild firings of submachine guns and hostility. And yet the damage was exponentially bigger than the Taiwanese' case.

Why the double standard? What the PCG did should be classified as HATE CRIME by a hate filled deranged Filipino guard, angry that the victims defied him and caused immense damage to his machismo pride. Pres Aquino should stop protecting Hoodlums in Uniform, whether it be in the military or the navy or the coast guard.

Anonymous said...

"No American was chased, arrested or irrationally killed for the violation of sovereignty, or the permanent damaging of a precious world heritage site in the Philippines, or the callous use of Philippine resources for the crew's R&R. According to a local solon, the American sailors went off into the water to swim and get closer view of the pretty corals, against the warnings of a park ranger. This kind of contempt was not met by wild firings of submachine guns and hostility. And yet the damage was exponentially bigger than the Taiwanese' case. "

>> The US has the PERMISSION of the Philippines. US ships navigating the Philippines is under the Visiting Forces Agreement.

Taiwan does not have that permission. Besides, the US voluntarily paid for the extraction of the minesweeper which costs 45x more than the fine. Also, the US promised to help rehabilitate it.

There is no double standards here.

A-Mao in Taiwan said...

It's a tough situation, but the bottom-line is crystal clear; Philippines firing on unarmed fisherman's boat is not allowed.

Anonymous said...

you intrude into my backyard to steal my things and i will blow your brain out of your head.... and i will not apologize.

Anonymous said...

lets reversed the situation, What will you do if a filipino were killed in that accident? will they apologized and give demands or they just ignore it and forget about it