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.
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!


Anonymous said...

I thought the Filipino flag burning by elected DPP officials in Kaohsiung was particularly classy.

Anonymous said...

Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

It is amazing how Taiwan is moving closer to shooting itself on its foot.

I'm even hearing rumors about the US threatening Taiwan about suspension of military sales and aid should it further escalate the tension. This is yet to be confirmed but it should be an interesting development.

recently, the US lauded the Philippine initiative to have an investigation. I have yet to hear the US lading Taiwan for how it's been behaving as regards to this issue

And as far as I know, one condition of US sales and aid to allies is that you cannot use US weapons against another US ally. I'm not sure if Taiwan knows that the US has Mutual Defense Treaty with the Philippines and is a US ally (I'd even say a former US territory, about 50 years). The act of Taiwan threatening it with military action is already a violation of those arms sales and aid conditions

Unknown said...

The Philippine government has already apologized with a promise to provide assistance to the family of the dead fisherman.

I don't know if Taiwan president wants PNoy to call for a press conference and publicly announce his apology in front of the whole world.

But what Taiwanese are doing to the innocent Filipino workers in Taiwan are more than enough compensation for the mishap that happened in the Philippine waters which led to the death of an intruding Taiwanese fisherman.

Taiwan calls that incident barbaric and uncivilized? Well, have they looked at the mirror lately? The acts of Taiwan government together with Taiwanese people who instigate punishment for the innocent Filipinos are no different either.

Anonymous said...

I read somewhere by netizens who are satirizing the Ma and the gov't about this incident comparing it to: "A mosquito biting you on your privates- difficult to hit..."

Anonymous said...

Oy vey, how will the Philippines compensate for losses of remittances from Filipino workers in Taiwan?

I fear it will resort back to "military entrepreneurship", a term for kidnapping-for-ransom by soldiers and/or police to raise money.... They've been doing this for the past 20 odd years, why stop when it's so profitable and effortless.

Anonymous said...

Glen, you did point out the issue. You government claims the incident happened in the Philippine water. However, if you read Mike's articles, you will know they lied to your ppl. Your government killed innocent ppl in the high seas and ask your ppl to "donate" compensation. It's hard to believe for me if anyone agree this. Also, who treat Philippines workers bad? So far these reports are all rumors from Internet.

Jay Dennison said...

Well, over here in Canada, my wife and I have been sheltered from the racism that she (a Filipino MBA student in Taiwan) had to deal with on a regular basis. It's issues like these that make me remember those times that I was bitter and angry about the Taiwan-Philippines relationships. Not everyone can just move back home like we did. And if they did, would that solve anything? Just my thoughts.

Jay Dennison

HY said...

Are these people Taiwanese or Chinese? For heaven's sake.

Mike Fagan said...

"The acts of Taiwan government together with Taiwanese people who instigate punishment for the innocent Filipinos are no different either."

Yes. However, this is not something that is unique to Taiwan, but is rather a consequence of Statist politics. Since the State "must" be seen to act, but cannot act to punish the specific culprit legally via the cooperation of the Philipine government, then it has no other option but to go round punishing innocent people. In doing so, the Taiwan government is merely acting in its' own interest to pacify the nationalistic rage of the population.

And how did the population get to be so nationalist? On the one hand, the "international community" (i.e. other governments) has kowtowed to the PRC in denying diplomatic recognition to Taiwan, but this may have merely frustrated and stoked a nationalism that was already there. On the other hand, there are those conservatories of stupidity we euphemistically refer to as "schools" wherein the concepts of open debate and rational criticism are still largely alien to this day.

les said...

The Philippines is busy with elections and much more important things than one dead fish poacher. Sarah Jessica Parker was in Manilla. Celebrities are getting married and divorced. This spat with Taipei hardly makes an inch of column space.

The Philippines enjoys a lot of advantages that Taiwan doesn't. A seat at the UN. A formal defense treaty with the USA. A president with a cool head and rising popular support. What does the Philippines have to be worried about? Workers can be deployed elsewhere, a trading partner that has a surplus with you is expendable, and the loss of Taiwanese tourism won't hurt much at all. If the Taiwanese are dumb enough to start shooting at Philippine military assets the US is treaty-bound to assist.

Anonymous said...

les said..
"Philippines is busy with elections and much more important things than one dead fish poacher..."

Yup, that time of year is here again... and so far, almost 100 dead from Philippines politics and warlords related gang violence (as usual) !! What's one more dead fisherman to you guy and your humpback president anyways....

Anonymous said...

Pardon us for having a showbiz republic with high viewership ratings. We didn't notice there's a Taiwan Shooting Drama taking place in another TV channel.

- Manila