Tuesday, May 21, 2013

How Taiwan (ultimately) bungled the Philippine crisis [UPDATED]

Taiwanese protest against the Philippines
Taiwanese diplomats missed a golden opportunity to de-escalate when Aquino dispatched MECO Chairman Amadeo Perez to Taipei to convey his apology 

The art of diplomacy involves not only the ability to maximize the returns for one’s country but also a keen awareness of the most propitious time to cease escalation. The dispute between Taipei and Manila over the killing of a Taiwanese fisherman by a Filipino coast guard vessel is a case study in how initially skilful diplomacy can quickly be undermined by missed opportunities. 

During the first days of the crisis, Taiwan indisputably had the moral high ground. Hung Shih-cheng, a 65-year-old Taiwanese fisherman, had been killed when a Philippine coast guard sprayed the Kuang Ta Hsing No. 28 with machine gun in disputed waters between the two countries. As a joint investigation had yet to materialize, it still wasn’t clear whether the ship had ventured into the Philippine’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Regardless, the 45 bullet holes discovered on the hull of the Kuang Ta Hsing pointed to a disproportionate response by the Philippine authorities. 

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

The New York Times/IHT picks it up.
The Manila Standard also picks it up, and adds criticism against the Aquino government.
For an example of selective and self-serving use of my article, see ABS-CBN News.

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