China’s bid to join with Taiwan against the Philippines following the shooting death of a Taiwanese fisherman by the Philippine Coast Guard could pose new challenges for President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), an academic said yesterday.
China yesterday sought to make common cause with Taiwan against Manila, deploring the shooting in harsh rhetoric that threatened to spark another diplomatic tussle between Beijing and Manila.
“We strongly condemn the barbaric shooting and killing of the Taiwanese fisherman, and demand the Philippines investigate the case and furnish the details as soon as possible,” Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Hua Chunying (華春瑩) said. “We are deeply grieved about the death of the Taiwanese compatriot and have sent condolences to his family.”
China’s government television channel CCTV led its noon news yesterday with a report on the death of the fisherman, and the Chinese Communist Party-controlled Global Times newspaper called on the Chinese navy to increase its presence in the South China Sea, amid angry condemnations of the Philippines as a “savage” country.
Lin Chong-pin (林中斌), Taiwan’s former deputy minister of national defense and an expert on cross-strait relations and defense policy, said Beijing’s harsh rhetoric against the Philippines in condemning the shooting was part of its united front tactics to win the hearts and minds of Taiwanese.
Lin said China has been carrying out a “united front” campaign, as outlined by former Chinese president Hu Jintao (胡錦濤), to win over Taiwan since 2008.
The campaign gives priority to protecting the interests and rights of “Taiwanese compatriots.”
People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Major General Luo Yuan (羅援) said that the two sides of the Taiwan Strait should jointly defend island chains in the South China Sea.
He said that if the Philippines or Vietnam were to invade Taiwan-controlled Taiping Island in the South China Sea, the PLA should immediately intervene and fight side-by-side with its Taiwanese counterpart to protect the Chinese nation’s common interests in the region.
Against this backdrop, China’s attempts to play up the latest shooting incident could pose a big challenge to Ma because a balancing act needs to be achieved when dealing with China, the Philippines and the US, Lin said.
Wong Ming-hsien (翁明賢), director of Tamkang University’s Graduate Institute of International Affairs and Strategic Studies, shared Lin’s views, saying that Taiwan is in need of a well-devised regional security strategy.