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Talk of the Day -- Taiwan, Philippines duel for global support

Talk of the Day -- Taiwan, Philippines duel for global support

Taiwan has decided to launch a global publicity campaign after sensing that its message in a diplomatic tussle between Taiwan and the Philippines over the shooting of a Taiwanese fisherman has not been getting out. After collecting reports in the international media, Taiwan concluded that the reports either wrote about the shooting incident without comment or sided with the Philippines, preventing the truth to come out. The new campaign is designed to restore the country's voice in the dispute. President Ma Ying-jeou, an international law scholar-turned-politician, was the first official to take to the front lines of the campaign. On Thursday, he said the excessive use of force by the Philippine government vessel in exclusive or overlapping economic zones is not permitted either under international law or the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. On Friday, Ma said the apology sent by President Benigno Aquino III through his envoy, Amadeo Perez, chairman of the Manila Economic and Cultural Office, described the death of the Taiwanese fisherman as an "unintended loss of life" in a apparent attempt to play down the seriousness of the incident, which Ma called "totally unacceptable." The president said that if the Philippine government vessel could use automatic weapons to fire on an unarmed and unprovocative fishing boat, "this is no longer an execution of official duties, but cold-blooded murder." Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs held an international press conference later Friday to highlight the brutality of the attack of Philippines law enforcement personnel on the Taiwanese fishing boat. The Philippines held its own publicity events Friday to explain its position. The Philippines' National Bureau of Investigation displayed the guns on the Philippine patrol boat at the time of the incident, while Deputy Presidential spokeswoman Abigail Valte said Manila would not be afraid of an exercise conducted by Taiwan in waters off the Philippines. The following are excerpts of media coverage of the publicity campaign engaged in by the two countries to win global support: China Times: To address the apparent sympathy that it perceives the international media is showing for the Philippines, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has set up a website on the shooting incident, providing the latest developments in the dispute in both Chinese and English. One of the entries is a close-up of the bullet-ridden Taiwanese boat, the Kuang Ta Hsing No. 28, which is seen as vindicating Taiwan's view that the attack was cold-blooded murder. The website has also compiled the statements of Taiwanese government agencies in the past week, and posted messages by U.S. Congressman Steve Chabot and other international figures in support of Taiwan's stance. More than a week after the fatal shooting, Philippine websites, using their edge in language, have provided all sorts of information on the "unintended " shooting to major social media, and, to solicit sympathy, said that the Philippine government openly apologized for the fisherman's death. Taiwan called a high-level meeting Thursday night and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was asked to begin a publicity campaign to counterbalance the international media coverage. An international press conference marking the completion of Ma's first year in office in his second term will be held on May 20, and he will discuss foreign policy issues. A day after Philippine presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda seemed to mock Ma (who has a low approval rating) by touting Aquino's high approval rating, Foreign Minister David Lin countered Friday by questioning Manila's regard for human life.
Lin said that a mid-term election in the Philippine has resulted in several deaths, saying that "I think you can be the judge of whether they value the importance of life." Vice President Wu Den-yih also said Friday that "the Philippines probably does not attach much importance to human life," noting that more than 50 people died in the just completed elections. The ministry has also asked its more than 100 overseas offices to take the initiative to explain the incident and the four demands the government has made of the Philippines. It has not ruled out the possibility of printing campaign brochures to present Taiwan's stance to its allies. (May 18, 2013) United Daily News: A large English poster with the words "it's a cold-blooded murder, not 'unintended' killing" was posted five minutes before an international press conference by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Friday afternoon, which marked the formal launch of the publicity campaign. MOFA spokeswoman Anna Kao, opened the press conference by describing the incident, stressing that "more than 50 bullet holes were found on the Taiwanese ship." Then Minister Lin accused the Philippines of committing a barbaric deed. Deputy Justice Minister Chen Ming-tang used a projector to show the bullet wound of the fisherman who died in the shooting, and staffers distributed photos to inform the media of the brutal treatment of the Taiwanese fishermen and the boat. The Foreign Ministry is now discussing the next step in its publicity campaign to maintain its voice in the publicity battle with the Philippines. (May 18, 2013) (By Lilian Wu)