Taiwan troubles

The biggest news in Taiwan is the tensions with the Philippines, which stems from the last week death of a Taiwanese fisherman after Filipino fishery officials opened fire on the fisherman’s boat which was supposedly in Filipino waters. The death has caused a massive outbreak of outrage against the Philippines, which Taiwan has issued several strong demands. The latest update is that Taiwan was unsatisfied with official apologies from the Philippines and issued several sanctions, as well as run a naval military drill in those same disputed waters. While the issue might seem quite straightforward, at least from the Taiwan side, it’s certainly not. First off, the fisherman’s death is tragic and should never have happened. The Filipinos claim that the Taiwan fishing boat was in Filipino waters and it tried to ram them, so they fired on it to disable it. The Taiwan boat was shot over 60 times, which seems excessive though it’d be expected if the shooters were trying to stop the boat. It’s hard to believe that Filipino officials would blatantly try to commit murder in the open, though if they did they should be brought to justice. From maps indicating where the confrontation happened, it seems much closer to the Philippines than Taiwan. Also, given the dubious actions of Taiwanese fishermen, who are known to fish in other countries’ waters and been accordingly held, it’d be unreasonable to assume the Taiwanese were totally innocent.
The Taiwan media have predictably turned this into a circus, with biased reporting and inaccurate information and wild claims  being the norm. The main issue is not whether the person’s death was wrong (it was), but whether this issue warrants such threats and sanctions from Taiwan. For now, Taiwan seems intent on ratcheting up the stakes and provoking action (which is passively supported by China), but it’s not looking very responsible.

Is this the end of India’s Gandhi dynasty? asks Foreign Policy in an interesting look at the Gandhi family and its heir Rahul.


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