Shooting of Taiwanese fisherman to muddy dynamics of China’s sea disputes

by Chris Zappone

 

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The apparent killing of a Taiwanese fisherman by the Philippine Coast Guard will only muddy the ongoing dispute in the South China Sea, giving the mainland Chinese more reason to assert their claims against the Philippines.

A 65-year old Taiwanese fisherman Hung Shih-cheng was shot by the PCG on Thursday morning as he operated 304 kim off the southern coast of Taiwan

China’s hard-line Global Times writes:

 

Beijing’s next step depends primarily on how officials in Taiwan react – whether they have the courage to lift their “concern” to “strong condemnation” and whether they wish for help from the mainland.

 

Thus far, Taiwan’s attitude has remained warm despite frictions with other stakeholders. If they make representations to the Philippines themselves, this matter will end with nothing definitive, or perhaps at most, compensation from the Philippines.

 

If it is confirmed the Philippine navy is behind the shooting, the mainland should show its stance by intensifying navy activities in the disputed water between the mainland and Philippines.

 

Of course, if China can successfully back Taiwan here, it could have implication for the East China Sea, Senkaku-Diaoyu Island dispute, where Taiwan has forged an agreement with Japan over fishing right’s there. Should Taiwan countenance mainland China’s support or pressure, I imagine it would embolden Beijing to take actions to “support” Taiwan if a new dispute ever emerged between Japan and Taiwan.

The same Global Times piece notes:

Most of the analysts from the Chinese mainland speculated that because the Philippines was awed by the might of the Chinese mainland, it had vented its anger on Taiwan …