News / Asia

Taiwan, Philippines Pursue Joint Shooting Probe to Mend Ties

Family members cry around the body of Taiwanese fisherman Hung Shih-cheng after his boat, the Kuang Ta Hsing No. 28, arrived at Liuqiu port in Pingtung County, southern Taiwan, May 11, 2013.
Family members cry around the body of Taiwanese fisherman Hung Shih-cheng after his boat, the Kuang Ta Hsing No. 28, arrived at Liuqiu port in Pingtung County, southern Taiwan, May 11, 2013.
Ralph Jennings
The Philippines' rejection of charges that its coast guard intentionally shot a Taiwanese fisherman to death in overlapping waters has enraged Taiwan and severely strained ties between two normally friendly Pacific Rim democracies. But both sides are hinting this week at a joint investigation that could repair relations.

The shooting of a 65-year-old fisherman aboard his boat on May 9 has created a public furor in his homeland, Taiwan, prompting calls for a full-blown apology and compensation. Taiwan said the act was intentional, but the Philippines has said much less.

Manila’s response comes as a setback for Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou as he tries to raise approval ratings of around 20 percent.

But Taipei said this week it has made progress on its call for a joint investigation into the Luzon Strait shooting. On Tuesday, the two sides held working-level meetings and decided to offer mutual legal aid. Taiwan’s foreign ministry spokeswoman Anna Kao said the development shows that both sides are working in the same spirit.

Kao said that, basically, in doing a joint investigation in spirit, the Philippines will respect each side’s legal rights to the area of ocean. She said that later both sides will make joint checks, make comparisons and hold discussions, so basically the spirit on both sides is the same.

Manila had declined to work together after Taiwan took 11 countermeasures against it last week, including a freeze on Philippine migrant labor. About 88,000 Filipinos in Taiwan would be forced to leave once current contracts end. The flap has enraged people on both sides, making migrants feel physically threatened. It also tears at part of an American-led Asia-Pacific alliance that also includes Japan and South Korea.

Some political strategists said the Philippines may have fallen short of Taiwan’s demands to avoid statements that could be read as conceding the disputed waters where the man was shot. Ocean economic zones claimed by each side overlap in the 250-kilometer-wide Luzon Strait.

A joint investigation into the incident that Taiwan said left 59 bullet holes in the fishing boat could be a start toward eventual conciliation. Alex Chiang, an associate professor of international politics at National Cheng Chi University in Taipei, said the worst is already over.

“I don’t think the Filipino president will back up a lot, but I think he will do it gradually," said Chiang. "First, I think both sides will have to agree on the investigation outcome. They both have to agree on what has happened. That’s first and foremost. Once they agree about the incident, I think it will be easy for both sides to settle the issue.”

Taiwan’s foreign ministry said it ultimately plans to send a team to the Philippines to question witnesses and examine evidence. Manila has said it would return the visit to meet witnesses and look at the fishing boat shot by its coast guard.

You May Like

Arrested Football Officials Come Mainly From the Americas

US Justice Department alleges defendants participated in 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through corruption of international soccer More

Video Kenyans Lament Al-Shabab's Recruitment of Youths

VOA travels to Isiolo, where residents share their fears, struggles to get loved ones back from Somalia-based militant group More

This US Epidemic Keeps Getting Worse

One in 4 Americans suffers from this condition More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensionsi
X
May 26, 2015 11:11 PM
When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.

VOA Blogs