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....
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.Here is Article 51 of UNCLOS.
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.
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
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.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.
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.
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.Note that the two nations locate the incident in different though close places. President Aquino appealed for calm in Taipei.
"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.
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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