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Escalation Pressure Builds Between Manila and Taipei

14 May

Kuang Ta Hsing No. 28What good is hegemonic authority when the United States won’t get pushy for law and order in the South China Sea?

The United States on Monday voiced regret over the death of a Taiwanese fisherman killed when the Philippine coast guard fired on his vessel, but stopped short of condemning the incident.

“We regret the tragic death of a Taiwan fishing boat master during a May 9 confrontation at sea with a Philippine patrol vessel,” State Department spokesman Jen Psaki told reporters.

“The United States has been in touch with both the Philippine government and the Taiwan authorities regarding this incident. And we welcome the Philippine government’s pledge to conduct a full and transparent investigation.”

Pressed by reporters to take a stronger stand, Ms Psaki said merely that Washington continued to urge all sides “to refrain from provocative actions.”

A Philippines coast guard vessel puts 55 holes in a Taiwanese fishing vessel, a man takes a bullet, and that’s all you got? Both Manila and Taipei are offering differing accounts of the incident.

The accounts differ. Philippine authorities claim that the fishing boat was intercepted approximately 43 nautical miles east of Balintang Island in the Balintang channel, and was therefore operating illegally in their country’s 200-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ). They also contend that the Kuang Ta Hsing provoked the shooting by trying to ram the Filipino Maritime Control Surveillance 3001, an “aggressive act” that forced its crew to take defensive action.

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