Taiwan, Philippines tensions escalate over slain Taiwanese fisherman


Two people hold protest signs at the Philippine de facto embassy in Taipei during a demonstration on May 13, 2013 against the shooting to death of a local fisherman by Philippine coastguards. The incident has led to escalation of tensions between Taipei and Manila as the Taiwanese sent a fleet of four naval and coastguard frigates to the water area near the Philippines where the 65-year-old fisherman was killed on May 9.


Mandy Cheng

Tensions over the killing of a Taiwanese fisherman by the Philippine coast guard last week escalated Wednesday, as Taiwan pulled its envoy from Manila and refused to meet with President Benigno Aquino's personal representative. 

Taiwan's outrage over the shooting of 65-year-old Hung Shih-cheng in the contested Bashi Strait has deepened since last week, as President Ma Ying-jeou withdrew the country's representative from the Philippines over his "strong dissatisfaction" with their response to the killing.

He also said Taiwan would stop accepting work applications from Filipinos. There are about 88,000 migrant workers from the islands in Taiwan, and the country receives about 3,000 applications each month. 

"We appeal to the people of Taiwan not to involve our Filipino nationals there," Aquino's spokesman said. "We appeal for calm. We appeal for sobriety."

Aquino had his de facto ambassador to the island apologized for the death, and also sent chairman of the Manila Economic and Cultural Office, Amadeo R. Perez, to personally express "deep regret and apology to the family of Mr. Hung Shih-cheng, as well as to the people of Taiwan over the unfortunate and unintended loss of life," his spokesman said in a statement

However, Taiwanese Foreign Minister David Lin refused to meet with Perez, who landed in Taipei Wednesday afternoon. 

Ministry spokeswoman Anna Kao told reporters Lin declined because Perez was not sufficiently "authorized" to handle the matter.

Taiwan has insisted that the Philippines offer a "formal apology" as well as compensation to the fisherman's family, as well as the immediate apprehension of the killer and talks over two countries' fishing industries. 

They have also threatened further sanctions should Manila not comply by Wednesday. 

The Philippines’ National Bureau of Investigation has launched an investigation into the shooting, and said it would be "thorough, exhaustive, impartial and expeditious."

The Bashi Strait is just one of the hotly contested areas within the South China Sea. China, Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei all hold territorial claims to the region, which often come into conflict. 

More from GlobalPost: Taiwan, Philippines to jointly probe killing of fisherman in disputed waters