THE tangled mess that the Philippine government had to handle over the killing of a Taiwanese fisherman should prompt Manila to review its One China Policy, which prevents the country from negotiating with Taiwan on a diplomatic and political level, two senior government officials said on Tuesday.

    The sources, who hold senior positions in the government, said the Philippines should review its “interpretation and implementation” of the One China Policy.

    Under the policy, those seeking relations with mainland China must break ties with Taiwan and vice-versa. Those who recognize mainland China as the sole representative of the two governments must also severe diplomatic ties with Taipei, which the mainland considers a renegade island.

    Taiwan is not a member of the United Nations since the international community recognizes the mainland over Taipei.

    The sources said that the One China Policy “can be interpreted better.”

    A study group composed of members of the House of Representatives and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said in a report that Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) members like Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam have “astutely deepened and expanded their relations” with Taiwan “without China’s objections.”

    The sources said there is a “more correct interpretation” of the policy. They pointed out that the Philippines has twice been in trouble because of its interpretation of the One China Policy.

    In 2011, the Philippine government deported 14 Taiwanese to the mainland because of the policy. Recently, the government also refused to reach out to the Taiwanese government through diplomatic and political channels because of the same policy, putting in jeopardy the negotiations and investigation regarding the killing of a 65-year-old Taiwanese fisherman by members of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG).

    The Philippines and Taiwan communicate through their de facto-government offices—the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO) and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO). MECO, however, does not operate under the Foreign Affairs department.

    Because of the One China Policy, high-ranking government officials also cannot visit Taiwan. The prohibition applies to the President, Vice President, Secretary of Foreign Affairs and of the Department of National Defense.

    However, the study group said mid-level DFA career foreign service officers should be posted at the MECO in Taipei. The sources said having career foreign service officials in Taiwan will give the Philippines a better understanding of the island especially during crisis.


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