05/14/2013, 00.00
TAIWAN - PHILIPPINES
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Taiwan sets ultimatum for an official apology over fisherman killed in Filipino waters

Taipei wants justice and admission of guilt. If its demands are not met by tomorrow, it will impose economic and diplomatic sanctions on the Philippines. Meanwhile, Filipino workers in Taiwan petition their own government to act, hoping that their rights are not affected.

Taipei (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Taiwan is demanding the conviction of the people responsible, compensation for the victim's family and an agreement on fishing rights. If by tomorrow, the Filipino authorities do not issue an official apology and agree to its requests, Taipei will impose diplomatic and economic sanctions against Manila.

The Filipino Coast Guard is accused of killing 65-year old Taiwanese fisherman Hung Shih-cheng, in the waters that separate the two countries.

The incident, which occurred last Thursday, is part of the ongoing dispute between various nations over maritime boundaries in the East and South China Seas.

Officials in Manila said that their coast guard acted in self-defence and that the fishing boat tried to ram into the coastguard vessel.

Taiwanese officials have dismissed the allegation, saying that their boat did not do engage in such behaviour. Instead, they claim that the latter was found with 52 bullet holes.

In a statement, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei also slammed the Philippines over the incident, expressing the mainland's support for Taiwan in the name of their common interests. For some analysts, this represents a sign of thawing relations between the two nations.

However, Taiwanese Foreign Minister David Lin is wary about the People's Republic's involvement in Taiwan's relations with the Philippines because it could hamper further talks on a fishery pact.

Whilst the Filipino government has turned down Taiwan's request, its ambassador in Taipei extended its condolences to the family's victim

Similarly, Filipino workers in Taiwan launched a petition on Sunday, calling on their government to respond immediately to Taiwan's demands.

"We are here because of our family. We need money. We need to send money to our family," said a Filipino woman working in Taiwan. "We pray, hoping that (the case) may be solved within 72 hours," she added.

About 87,000 Filipino immigrants live in Taiwan. If economic sanctions are imposed, the island nation might lose a good chunk of its workforce hurting its own economy.

However, many of Taiwan's biggest companies back their government's stance.

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