Seas of troubles
Taiwan and China share the same maritime claims, but have very different interests
Because China bars Taiwan from international treaties, Taiwan cannot ratify the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). But it follows the convention’s principles. The shooting took place 164 nautical miles (about 300km) south-east of Taiwan, where the “exclusive economic zone” it would be entitled to under UNCLOS overlaps with that of the Philippines.
Taiwan’s fishing fleet has a reputation as voracious, and in this incident the Philippines said its coastguard was acting against illegal fishing; it opened fire to disable the engine of a Taiwanese vessel after it tried to ram a Philippine cutter. Taiwanese officials said the dead man was unarmed, and his boat was riddled with bullet holes. The public, whipped up by a tub-thumping press, was outraged. The government demanded an apology, an inquiry and compensation and imposed tough sanctions, including a freeze on the hiring of Filipino workers and the recall of ambassadors. It has conducted a naval drill in the contested waters. Meanwhile, hackers from both countries mounted cyber attacks on the other’s official websites. The Philippines’ first apologies were rejected as “insincere”, though one came from an envoy appointed by President Benigno Aquino and seemed abject.
China helped fan Taiwan’s fury. Its foreign ministry was quick to condemn the “barbaric act”. The reliably bellicose Global Times, a Communist Party paper, dutifully recalled that Taiwan is in China’s eyes a province-in-waiting, deserving of its protection. The paper quoted Zhuang Guotu of Xiamen University, just over the strait from Taiwan: “China has reiterated over time that Taiwan is an integral part of China. Now is a good opportunity to show that China will not tolerate the shooting of our fishermen, whether they are from the mainland or Taiwan, and that our government is determined to protect the life of its people.”
Taiwan’s president, Ma Ying-jeou, has presided over a big improvement in relations with China, through increased trade and tourism. But that has not brought much sympathy in Taiwan for any kind of Chinese security umbrella, let alone unification. And in another dispute—over the five, Japanese-controlled islands in the East China Sea known as the Senkaku islands in Japanese and the Diaoyu in Chinese—Taiwan has incurred China’s wrath.
In China’s view, the uninhabited islands are a historical part of what was the Taiwan prefecture of Fujian province (and, from 1887-95, the province of Taiwan). Taiwan and the islands it controlled were snatched from the declining Qing empire in 1895 as war booty by an ascendant Japan. China argues the islands should have been returned to it on Japan’s defeat in 1945. Japan, however, regards the Senkakus as part of the Okinawa (formerly the Ryukyu) chain, and says they were unclaimed by any power until it “discovered” them in 1884. (China’s People’s Daily has raised doubts as to whether even this interpretation of history would give Japan sovereignty, questioning its claim to all the Ryukyus, the modern-day Okinawa prefecture).
So Taiwan was among the fiercest opponents of the Japanese government’s “nationalisation” last year of three of the islands by buying them from their private owner. Last September the Taiwanese coastguard fought a rather silly water-cannon battle with Japan’s near the islands. But last month, to China’s fury, Taiwan cut a deal with Japan, allowing both countries’ fleets to fish in the waters round the islands. It was a reminder that, for all its ardent nationalism, Taiwan has close ties to Japan—which occupied it for 50 years—and also that it pursues its own interests, not those of the Chinese “motherland”.
My country, which is thee?Worryingly for China, the emotions now on display are driven by patriotism for Taiwan, not China. The biggest reason the first apologies from the Philippines were dismissed was that they did not formally come from the government, because of its “one China” policy of recognising only the government in Beijing. Resentment at this in Taiwan unites both Mr Ma’s relatively pro-China ruling party, the Kuomintang (KMT), and the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which favours formal independence for Taiwan. The DPP also supports the government’s claims to territory that historically had nothing to do with Taiwan, except as the seat of the KMT government after it lost the civil war to the Communists in 1949. Taiwan adheres to the same vague “nine-dashed line” claim as China, asserting sovereignty over almost all the South China Sea. It has a garrison on the largest island in the Spratly chain in that sea. Last year, the DPP accused Mr Ma of a wimpish reaction when China declared that it had set up an administrative structure for the sea.
Just as it has long tolerated Taiwan’s control of tiny islands just off the mainland, so China probably welcomes Taiwan’s bizarre claim to the South China Sea. Taiwan’s government has long discarded most of the fictions that used to sustain its claim to legitimacy over all of China: parliamentary seats for mainland constituencies, government bodies planning for the reconquest, and so on. That Taiwan and China make the same territorial claims is a last vestige of a shared “one China” outlook. Yet its handling of the row with the Philippines shows how even a “pro-China” government in Taiwan in fact believes in “one China, one Taiwan”.
Chen Wen-chi (C), an official from Taiwan's Ministry of Justice pictured in Manila, on May 18, 2013 (AFP, Noel Celis)
Philippines rejects Taiwan 'murder' claimsMANILA — The Philippines Saturday rejected Taiwan's allegations that Filipino coastguards had intentionally murdered a Taiwanese fisherman whose death has triggered a major diplomatic spat.
The 65-year-old fisherman was shot dead by Philippine coastguards who said his vessel intruded into Philippine waters.
Chen Wen-chi, head of the Taiwan team investigating the May 9 incident, said most of the bullets had hit the fishing boat's cockpit where its crew hid.
"By combining the... evidence, it clearly shows that the Philippine law enforcers were intentionally shooting the Guang Ta Hsin 28 crew members, which indicates their intent of murder," Chen told a news conference in Manila.
The shooting, which Manila insists occurred inside Philippine territorial waters but which Taipei counters happened within its exclusive economic zone, has led to Taiwanese sanctions against its neighbour.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and President Benigno Aquino's spokesman Ricky Carandang rejected the murder allegations.
"There is an investigation ongoing so any premature statements that tend to confuse the issues and inflame passions should be avoided," Carandang told AFP.
De Lima in a separate statement also urged everyone to refrain from making statements "that would further fuel or aggravate the prevailing tension between the Philippines and Taiwan".
Chen's comments echoed those made by Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou in Taipei on Friday.
"If (Philippine) civil servants used automatic weapons to fire at unarmed and unprovocative fishing boats, this was not carrying out their job duties. This is cold-blooded murder," Ma said.
Aquino made a "personal" apology on Wednesday over the "unintended" death arising from the patrol's duty of protecting Philippine waters against illegal fishing.
Manila insisted its forces fired in self-defence to disable the boat's engine and prevent it ramming the patrol craft.
Taiwan has rejected the apology. It recalled its de facto envoy, banned the hiring of new Philippine workers and staged a military drill in waters off the northern Philippines earlier this week.
The Philippines officially recognises Beijing over Taipei but maintains trade ties with the island, which employs about 87,000 Filipinos.
Philippine Vice President Jejomar Binay Saturday urged Taiwan to ensure the safety of Filipino workers following reports of attacks by angry Taiwanese.
"We heard and we read in the papers that they have been hit by bats and four have been hospitalised," Binay told reporters, according to an official transcript released by his office.
"We are appealing to the Taiwanese people to spare our overseas Filipino workers from conflict," he added.
Taiwanese media reported that a Filipino was treated in hospital after being attacked by a gang of youths.
"We've seen reports that their leaders have assured the safety of our people there. We expect them to act on these reports (of attacks)," Aquino spokeswoman Abigail Valte said.
Nearly 10 million Filipinos live or work abroad, and the tens of billions of dollars in earnings that they send home every year help prop up the Philippine economy.
台湾、漁船船員は「意図的に殺された」と主張 フィリピンは受け入れず2013年05月19日 15:23
台湾の捜査チーム幹部は、船員らが隠れていた漁船の操縦室に銃弾の大半が撃ち込まれていたと指摘。幹部はマニラ（Manila）市内で開いた記者会見で、「証拠を総合的に判断すると、フィリピンの警察当局が漁船「広大興28号（Guang Ta Hsin 28）」の船員らを意図的に銃撃していたのは明らかであり、殺人の意図があったことを示している」と述べた。
フィリピンのベニグノ・アキノ（Benigno Aquino） 大統領は15日、漁船の違法操業を取り締まる沿岸警備隊の任務で「意図せざる」死者が出たと述べ、「個人的」に謝罪を表明。台湾はこれを受け入れず、台湾 の駐フィリピン代表（大使に相当）召還、フィリピン人労働者の新規雇用を凍結するとともに、フィリピン北方の海域で軍事演習を行った。
フィリピンのジェジョマル・ビナイ（Jejomar Binay） 副大統領は18日、事件に反発した台湾人にフィリピン人が襲撃されたとの報道を踏まえ、フィリピン人労働者の安全確保を台湾当局に要請。公文書の発言記録 によると、同副大統領は記者団に対し、「（フィリピン人が）棒で殴られ、4人が入院したと新聞などで報道されている」と語ったという。