Taiwan to send warships to disputed waters

(Associated Press)

A Taiwanese military spokesman commented on Tuesday on the standoff with the Philippines following the recent death of a Taiwanese fisherman in disputed waters.

The Philippines coast guard opened fire on a Taiwanese fishing vessel in the Bashi Strait on Thursday, killing 65-year-old Hung Shih-cheng.

The strait is between Taiwan and the northern Philippines.

The Philippines coast guard has admitted it fired the shots that killed the fisherman, but said it acted in self-defence because the Taiwanese vessel was about to ram it.

At a news conference in Taipei on Tuesday, Lo Shao-ho, a spokesman for the Taiwanese defence ministry, said warships will be sent to patrol the disputed waters.

“Our coast guard will patrol Taiwan’s economic fishing zone to protect our fishermen,” he told reporters. “The military will also dispatch warships to guard that area, to maintain Taiwan’s sovereignty and dignity.”

Taiwan’s President Ma Ying-jeou has given the Philippines until Tuesday to apologise for the incident and provide compensation to the dead man’s family.

If the Philippines refuses, Ma has said he will order Taiwanese representatives in Manila back to Taipei and deny Filipinos permission to work in Taiwan.

“We will cooperate with our government to carry out necessary actions if the Philippines government fails to send its friendly response by the deadline, which is Tuesday midnight,” Lo said. “Our navy is fully prepared.”

Philippine President Benigno Aquino III said on Monday that the commander of the coast guard vessel involved in the incident was under investigation.

About 87-thousand Filipinos work in Taiwan, many in the manufacturing sector, where their English-language skills are seen as a boon to its export-oriented high-tech industries.

The incident has prompted angry demonstrations on the island.

Taiwanese protesters burned flags and threw eggs at a Filipino trade office, and demanded that Manila apologise.

(Copyright 2013 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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