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Taiwan drops sanctions against Philippines over fisherman's killing

By Jane Perlez

New York Times

LAST UPDATED: 12:20 p.m. HST, Aug 9, 2013

BEIJING » Taiwan has ended sanctions against the Philippines after accepting an apology from Manila for the fatal shooting of a Taiwanese fisherman in May by the Philippine coast guard.

Amadeo R. Perez, the chairman of the Manila Economic and Cultural Office, which operates as the Philippines’ de facto embassy in Taipei, the Taiwanese capital, flew to Taiwan on Thursday and offered an “official apology” on behalf of President Benigno S. Aquino III for the killing of the fisherman, Hung Shih-cheng, 65, who died from a bullet wound in the neck. The sanctions had hurt migrant Filipino laborers, who were barred from Taiwan’s lucrative labor market, and curbed the vibrant travel business between Taiwan and the Philippines.

Philippine investigators this week recommended homicide charges against eight coast guard members for Hung’s killing. Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the Philippines had also agreed to pay compensation to Hung’s family.

The Philippine economy relies on remittances from overseas workers. In 2011, the last year for which data is available, 41,896 Filipinos went to work in Taiwan, according to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration.

The diplomatic squabble over the shooting touched on competing claims between the Philippines and Taiwan in waters in and around the South China Sea, where China, Brunei, Vietnam, Malaysia and other nations are also at loggerheads.

The Philippines said the Taiwan fishing vessel had entered waters in its exclusive economic zone and had tried to ram a Philippine coast guard ship. Taiwan said the shooting had occurred at a location within exclusive economic zones claimed by both countries.

Hung’s killing prompted calls in Taiwan for tough action against the Philippines. Politicians and editorial writers said that Taiwan could not afford to suffer in silence out of fear of antagonizing the United States, an ally of the Philippines, and that a soft stance would only mean further international marginalization of the self-governing island, which China considers a renegade province and which enjoys formal diplomatic relations with few countries.

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