The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislative caucus yesterday urged the government to abolish its temporary enforcement line in the Bashi Channel and assert its rights in its 200 nautical mile (370km) exclusive economic zone (EEZ) amid escalated tensions with the Philippines.
The Fisheries Agency has unilaterally designated the 20° north latitude line as its temporary enforcement line, marking the area where the navy will provide protection for Taiwanese fishermen on the South China Sea.
DPP Legislator Pan Men-an (潘孟安) told a press conference that Taiwan should abolish the line since Manila has never recognized it.
Given the public’s outrage over at Philippine Coast Guard personnel’s killing of 65-year-old fisherman Hung Shih-cheng (洪石成) on May 9, Taiwan should be more assertive in exercising its full rights in the EEZ to provide better protection to Taiwanese fishing boats, the lawmaker said.
The Philippines does not recognize Taiwan’s self-proclaimed EEZ, the majority of which overlaps with Manila’s 200 nautical mile EEZ, because Taiwan was not given the opportunity to sign the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) cited yesterday as the legal basis for Taiwan’s maritime rights in the Bashi Channel.
Asked about UNCLOS, Philippine presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda told a press conference at Manila yesterday that the shooting incident occurred in the Philippines’ EEZ.
Meanwhile, the DPP caucus said Ma must explain the abrupt change in the government’s assessment of Manila’s response to its ultimatum seen between a press conference at 1am on Wednesday and a news conference at 10pm on the same day.
At the first press conference held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the ministry described Manila’s response as “positive,” but needed more “clarity.”
The Ma government announced a series of sanctions against the Philippines at the second press conference held at the Executive Yuan, saying that Manila’s apology was “insincere.”
DPP Legislator Chiu Yi-ying (邱議瑩) said Ma, as a president, “cannot and should not evade his responsibilities by making Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lin (林永樂) a scapegoat in the mix-up.”
“Lin would not have called the press conference and made those comments if he was not authorized to do so by Ma,” she said.