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Taipei hopes to hold fishery talks with Manila in late Aug. (update)

Taipei hopes to hold fishery talks with Manila in late Aug. (update)

Taipei, Aug. 15 (CNA) Taiwan is hoping to hold fishery talks with the Philippines in late August in an effort to address fishing disputes in their overlapping waters, a Taiwanese official said Thursday. Taiwan is also planning to assign a higher level official to head its negotiation team and is seeking to follow the model of its recent pact with Japan, said Benjamin Ho, director-general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Department of East Asian and Pacific Affairs. Ho's remarks came in the wake of repaired bilateral relations after Taiwan on Aug. 8 lifted a series of sanctions that had been imposed against the Philippines over its handling of the shooting death of a Taiwanese fisherman by Philippine Coast Guard personnel in May. Taiwan and the Philippines have agreed to hold their next fishery meeting in Taipei soon. They held a preparatory meeting June 14, during which they reached an initial consensus on several issues, including no use of force or violence during patrols of the fishing grounds and establishment of a mechanism to inform each other in the event of fishery incidents. Ho said Taiwan hopes to strengthen the legal effects of the bilateral consensus by signing a joint statement or communique during the next round of talks. He said James Sha, director-general of Taiwan's Fisheries Agency, may be appointed to lead the talks with Asis Perez, director of the Philippines' Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources. If the Japan model is followed, Taiwan's agreement with the Philippines will designate an area in the overlapping exclusive economic zones of the two countries, where fishermen from both sides will be allowed to operate freely, Ho said. In addition, a bilateral fishing commission may be established to deal regularly with follow-up issues, he said. Asked about the issue, the Manila Economic and Cultural Office, the Philippine institution responsible for handling relations with Taiwan in the absence of diplomatic ties, said it had "no information" yet on the agenda for the meeting. The June 14 meeting in Manila was held between a Taiwanese delegation led by Fisheries Agency Deputy Director-General Tsay Tzu-yaw and Philippine officials led by Perez, the ministry said. Relations between Taiwan and the Philippines had been strained after Philippine Coast Guard personnel attacked a Taiwanese fishing boat on May 9 in an overlapping exclusive economic zone of the two countries, resulting in the death of a 65-year-old Taiwanese fisherman, Hung Shih-cheng. The situation began to get back to normal when Manila responded positively to four demands made by Taiwan soon after the incident. Taiwan had demanded that Manila formally apologize for the shooting, punish those responsible, compensate the victim's family and hold bilateral fishery talks to prevent the occurrence of similar incidents in the future. When the Philippines initially balked at the demands, Taiwan imposed several punitive measures on May 15 that included recalling its representative to the Philippines Raymond Wang and asking the Philippines' de facto ambassador to Taiwan, Antonio Basilio, to return home to help deal with the incident. Wang returned to Manila Aug 11 to resume duties, while Basilio returned to Taiwan Aug. 13. (By Angela Tsai and Elaine Hou)


Updated : 2021-04-23 04:25 GMT+08:00