Mon, Dec 22, 2014 - Page 3 News List

White House finally answers petition on fisheries shooting

Staff writer, with CNA

The White House has replied to a petition asking for US assistance to prevent Taiwanese from “being murdered by the Philippines” — 19 months after a Taiwanese fisherman died during a confrontation with Philippine Coast Guard personnel.

In an undated official response to the petition, the White House said that the US has consistently encouraged cooperative efforts between Manila and Taipei to resolve the matter.

“The United States continues to support the ongoing negotiations between Taiwan authorities and the Philippines on a fisheries agreement that will institute measures to make such confrontations less likely in the future,” it reads.

It said that Washington was pleased to see that tensions between Taiwan and the Philippines have decreased markedly over the past year, adding: “We support their efforts to manage their disputes in a peaceful and cooperative manner.”

The Philippines is “a treaty ally” of the US, and Taiwan is also “an important security and economic partner” of the US in a region vital to international commerce, it said.

The two countries have a lot to gain from the full restoration of their longstanding close friendship and cooperation, it added.

The petition Web site, We the People, did not specify the date of the reply, but a Taiwanese reporter who said he had participated in the petition last year said he received an e-mail on Saturday notifying him of the White House reply.

Posted on May 15 last year, the petition was created by a person identified as D. T. from California, according to the Web site. The petition drew a total of 115,741 signatures.

On the Web site, D. T. wrote that it was sad to hear that a 65-year-old unarmed Taiwanese fisherman was killed by Philippine Coast Guard personnel on May 9 and that 51 bullet holes were found in the victim’s boat.

Fearing that the US would take the Philippines’ side and turn Taiwanese away, the petition said that “the situation is severe and may harm the interests of the United States.”

“The cost of losing Taiwan and its influence in Japan and China is extremely high. We, the People, demand our government to provide assistance to Taiwan,” the petition said.

Hung Shih-cheng (洪石成) was killed after Philippine coast guard personnel opened fire on the Kuang Ta Hsing No. 28 in waters where the exclusive economic zones of Taiwan and the Philippines overlap.

Taipei demanded that Manila formally apologize, punish those responsible, compensate Hung’s family and hold bilateral fishery talks to prevent the occurrence of similar incidents and later imposed a series of sanctions on the Philippines.

Relations thawed when Manila agreed to Taipei’s requests and the two nations have been working on a fishery agreement to address disputes.

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