Monday, May 13, 2013

Asia’s next high seas drama — tensions rise between Taiwan and the Philippines

A Lafayette-class frigate accompanies a CGA ship
Taipei has reacted with restraint to the killing of a fisherman by the Philippine coast guard last week. But escalation could easily ensue if the crisis is not handled properly 

The 15-tonne Kuang Ta Hsing No. 28 was docked at the Ta Fu fishing port on Siaoliouciou, off Pingtung County in Taiwan’s south. Forensic technicians were busy photographing the 55 bullet holes, some in thick parts on the port side, that had been discovered on the fishing vessel — evidence, preliminary analyses said, that a heavy-caliber machine gun was used. 

Two days earlier, on May 9, the fishing boat had been fired upon by a Philippine government vessel while operating some 164 nautical miles southeast of Taiwan’s southernmost tip. The unarmed crew took cover in the cabin, but for Hung Shih-cheng, a 65-year-old Taiwanese fisherman, it was too late. He was killed when a bullet penetrated the right side of his neck. 

My article, published today in The Diplomat, continues here.

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