Taipei lifts measures against Manila

Taiwan Foreign Minister David Lin speaks during a press conference.

TAIPEI - The government yesterday lifted 11 retaliatory measures after the Philippines offered a formal apology and promised compensation over the shooting death of a Taiwanese fisherman in May.

The announcement could signal the end of a three-month-long diplomatic row that was sparked by the fatal shooting of Hung Shih-cheng (洪石成) on May 9 in overlapping exclusive economic zones of the two countries in the South China Sea.

"The Philippine government has shown good will by positively responding to our government's four demands," Foreign Minister David Lin (林永樂) said during a press conference yesterday evening.

"Therefore, on behalf of the Taiwan government, the Foreign Ministry is announcing that we will lift all retaliatory measures against the Philippines," he said. The announcement took effect immediately.

Taiwan had previously issued four demands: a formal apology, punishment of those responsible for the shooting, compensation for the Hung family and the holding of bilateral fishery talks to prevent the occurrence of similar incidents in the future.

With the demands not met, Taiwan on May 15 imposed a series of punitive measures against the Philippines, including a ban on the processing of Filipinos' work visa applications and the suspension of most bilateral exchanges.

Speaking during last night's press conference, Lin said that Manila sent a special envoy to Taiwan yesterday to express "deep regret and apology" to Hung's family and to the Taiwanese people over the incident.

Manila and Hung's family have reached an agreement regarding compensation, Lin added.

The Philippine National Bureau of Investigation announced Wednesday that it was recommending homicide charges be laid against eight Filipino coastguardsmen involved in the shooting.

The Philippines promised that it will indict the eight as soon as possible, the minister said.

"We are happy that the diplomatic row could end peacefully," he said.

Next Fisheries Meeting to be Held in a Month

A second meeting to deal with fishing disputes between both countries is set to be held in a month in Taipei to address fishing disputes in overlapping waters and to prevent such tragedy from happening again, Lin said.

In a meeting held June 14 in Manila, the two sides reached an initial consensus on several issues, including against the use of force when policing fishing grounds and in favor of establishing a mechanism that will enable each side to notify the other in the event of an incident at sea, the foreign minister added.

"We will make sure that these initial agreements will be followed up on ... during the next talks," he added.

Lin made the comments after a meeting with the Philippine government's special envoy Amadeo Perez at the Foreign Ministry's headquarters in Taipei.

Perez, who was authorized by Philippine President Benigno Aquino III, offered an official apology to Hung's family during a visit to the dead fisherman's hometown in Southern Taiwan earlier yesterday.

He left the ministry following an hourlong meeting with Lin and did not participate in the Foreign Ministry's press conference