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German scholar suggests Taipei, Manila settle problem privately

German scholar suggests Taipei, Manila settle problem privately

Berlin, May 23 (CNA) German scholar Stefan Telmon has suggested that Taiwan and the Philippines work together behind the scenes to find an agreeable solution to their current row, rather than making public demands. The problem calls for the use of diplomacy on both sides, he said, as tensions continued to escalate between Taipei and Manila two weeks after a Taiwanese fisherman was killed when a Philippine marine patrol vessel opened fire on a Taiwanese fishing boat May 9. In a telephone interview with CNA, Talmon said the highly charged situation caught his attention while he was attending a forum in Taipei May 15-16 on international law and dispute resolution, and he has since been following the developments. Information recorded by the fishing vessel's VDR shows that the boat was operating within Taiwan's exclusive economic zone and had never entered the territorial waters of the Philippines. Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou has demanded that the Philippines government apologize for the shooting of the Taiwanese fisherman. He said Manila was using its "one-China policy" as an excuse to evade an official apology. Talmon said that with the "one-China policy" as part of the argument, the Philippines is not likely to make a state-to-state apology. Due to their different perceptions, both sides are basically locked into their respective corners, he added. With no satisfactory response from Manila, the Taiwan government has launched a series of sanctions against the Philippines, including issuing a red alert on travel for the Philippines, suspending economic exchanges, removing the Philippines from Taiwan's visa-waiver program and freezing Filipino labor import applications. Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense and Coast Guard Administration also recently conducted a joint exercise in waters between the two countries to demonstrate their determination to protect the country's fishermen. Under the current circumstances, Filipino politicians are not likely to negotiate a fishery agreement, taking into account the domestic sensitivity of the issue, according to Talmon. He advised against a scenario in which the whole issue would be driven by domestic public opinion, and suggested that Taipei and Manila instead work behind the scenes to come up with a special compromise formula for an apology. President Ma has suggested that the two countries sign a fishery agreement, similar to the one concluded between Taiwan and Japan in April, to achieve a long-term solution to their fishing rights disputes. Talmon agreed that the fishery agreement with Japan could serve as a model, but said Taiwan and the Philippines may have to wait until public emotion dies down to enter into such negotiations. (By Lillian Lin)


Updated : 2021-07-25 16:22 GMT+08:00