TAIPEI-MANILA ROW: Five special municipalities suspend Philippines ties to protest incident

Staff writer, with CNA

Wed, May 15, 2013 - Page 3

All five special municipalities have suspended exchange activities with the Philippines amid heightened tension between the two countries over the fatal shooting of Taiwanese fisherman Hung Shih-cheng (洪石成), 65, by the Philippine Coast Guard on Thursday last week.

Taipei, New Taipei City (新北市), Greater Taichung, Greater Tainan and Greater Kaohsiung account for about 60 percent of Taiwan’s population.

Greater Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊), of the Democratic Progressive Party (DDP), said she fully supports the central government’s proposed political and economic sanctions, unless the Philippine government issues an official apology over the incident and compensates the victim’s family.

Greater Kaohsiung has sister-city ties with Cebu in the Philippines, to which the Kaohsiung City Government has given hundreds of used buses and fire engines over the years. The city government will now review that relationship, Chen said.

Calling the Philippine Coast Guard’s behavior an act that “bordered on a violent act by pirates,” Greater Tainan Mayor William Lai (賴清德), also of the DPP, on Monday announced the suspension of all exchanges with Greater Tainan’s five sister cities in the Philippines until Manila responds to Taiwan’s demands.

Taipei was the first municipality to suspend all bilateral activities with the Philippines on Saturday, when Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) announced that two Philippine cities would be uninvited to the city’s dragon boat race, which will take place next month. The capital’s plan to donate two ambulances to the Philippines was also put on hold, he added.

New Taipei City and Greater Taichung also suspended all exchanges and the donation of used ambulances and fire engines, with Greater Taichung Mayor Jason Hu (胡志強) saying on Monday he was suspending exchanges with sister city Makati, part of Metro Manila, and called on Greater Taichung residents not to go to the Philippines.