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Diplomatic row with Taiwan worsens

Taipei demands apology

By DJ Yap
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 05:01:00 02/10/2011

Filed Under: Foreign affairs & international relations, Diplomacy, Crime and Law and Justice, Overseas Employment, Immigration

MANILA, Philippines?The diplomatic row between the Philippines and Taiwan over the deportation of Taiwanese to China worsened Wednesday as Taipei?s de facto ambassador to Manila prepared to return home.

Donald C. T. Lee, representative of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) who had been recalled to Taiwan, said the Philippines acted out of line when it deported the Taiwanese despite prior notification from Taiwan authorities about their citizenship.

For this, Lee demanded an apology from the Philippine government as he aired threats on the rights of 80,000 Filipino workers in Taiwan. On Wednesday, Lee handed a statement of protest to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima which said the deportation violated Philippine immigration and international laws.

Lee has been recalled by Taiwan over the issue.

Lee said the Philippines? One-China policy, which was used by Philippine authorities as basis for the deportation to China, is ?purely a political policy? and not law, as it chastised the Philippine government for intervening in Taiwan Strait affairs when it deported 14 Taiwanese nationals to the mainland early this month.

One-China policy

?Statements have been made to the effect that Philippine authorities acted this way in line with the so-called ?One China Policy.? We understand that it is purely a political policy, and not a law of the Republic of the Philippines,? said Lee, who will leave for Taiwan within the week.

?We also understand that any foreign policy should be anchored on national laws to pursue national interests. In this situation, it is the Republic of China (Taiwan) that exercises jurisdiction in Taiwan, and not the People?s Republic of China (PROC),? he said at a press conference at the TECO office in Makati City.

Philippine immigration authorities arrested 14 Taiwanese and 10 Chinese nationals in December over an alleged scam to swindle mainlanders out of millions of dollars.

Those arrested were deported to China on Feb. 2, despite protests from Taipei, which said the Taiwanese should have been sent back to the self-governed island to face justice.

Like most countries, the Philippines formally recognizes Beijing rather than Taipei, but maintains trade and tourism ties with Taiwan.

De facto embassies

China considers Taiwan a renegade province and seeks to isolate the island internationally. Although Taiwan and the Philippines have no diplomatic relations, Taipei is represented in Manila by TECO, which acts as Taiwan?s de facto embassy in Manila.

The Philippines is represented similarly in Taipei by TECO?s counterpart, the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO).

MECO defended the deportations, saying the Taiwanese were deported to China because the victims were Chinese.

But Lee said the Taiwanese should have been deported to the island ?based on the principle of nationality in jurisdiction in international law, and through a mechanism established between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait, Beijing and Taipei.?

?When Filipinos go to Taiwan, they need to apply for visas through our office, TECO, not through the PROC embassy in the Philippines; and the overseas Filipino workers in Taiwan earn New Taiwan dollar currency, not renminbi,? he said.

?Thus when a deportation issue arises about a Filipino residing in Taiwan, my counterpart in Taiwan should contact the government of the Republic of China for consultation, and not to PROC government and vice versa,? he said. With a report from Associated Press

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