Taiwan Ends Three-Month Economic Rift With Philippines

Taiwan yesterday ended an almost three-month standoff with the Philippines over the killing of a Taiwanese fisherman in disputed waters, dropping 11 economic measures it had taken against the Southeast Asian nation.

Taiwan lifted a hiring freeze on Filipino workers and a travel warning after the Philippines met Taiwan’s requests for a formal apology, compensation for the victims, punishment for those at fault and talks on fishing rights in waters claimed by both governments, Taiwan Foreign Minister David Lin said at a press conference late yesterday.

Philippine envoy to Taiwan Amadeo Perez met the victim’s family yesterday and apologized, Lin said. His government agreed to compensate the dead fisherman’s family, and both sides agreed to seek to hold fishing-rights talks in Taipei next month, Lin told reporters.

Taiwan, the seventh-biggest destination for Filipino workers last year, allowed 10,000 Filipino worker visas to lapse during the standoff, threatening to slow Philippine President Benigno Aquino’s push to cut his country’s jobless rate. Overseas workers account for about 10 percent of the southeast Asian country’s gross domestic product.

Travel agencies in Taiwan, the Philippines’ fifth-biggest source of tourists, canceled trips after the government discouraged travel to the country. Visitors from the Philippines to Taiwan dropped 8.7 percent in the first half of the year, the Taipei-based Central News Agency reported.

Homicide Charges

Philippines investigators on Aug. 7 recommended prosecuting eight members of its coast guard on criminal homicide charges following an investigation into the death of 65-year-old Taiwanese fisherman, Hung Shih-cheng. The Philippines National Bureau of Investigation said while the incident occurred in its economic zone, there was “no conclusive justification” for the use of force in the incident.

Taiwan’s justice ministry said in investigation results released yesterday that 108 bullets were fired at the fishing vessel, which it said was operating in Taiwan waters. One hit Hung in the neck, causing “heavy blood loss” and killing him.

Measures Taiwan also dropped yesterday include a suspension of air-space talks and ministerial meetings under the World Health Assembly.

Aquino’s government, under its one-China policy, doesn’t recognize Taiwan. Mainland China requires that nations with which it has diplomatic ties drop their government connections with the island. Philippine envoy Perez’s official title is chairman of the Manila Economic and Cultural Office.

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