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The Philippines apologizes to Taiwan over visa-waiver post

2012/06/26 12:00:17

Taipei, June 26 (CNA) The Philippines has apologized to Taiwan over a controversial news article posted on an official website that claimed the Southeast Asian country was dissatisfied with Taiwan's efforts to gain visa waiver status, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Tuesday.

Antonio Basilio, representative of the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO), has apologized to Taiwan over the "inappropriate action," said James Chou, deputy director-general of the ministry's Department of East Asian and Pacific Affairs.

The posted article was merely an "opinion of the media" and "does not represent the Philippine government or MECO," he said at a routine press briefing.

Reiterating the friendly relations between Taiwan and the Philippines, Chou said there were "no barriers in communication" and that visa waiver negotiations have been "proceeding smoothly."

On June 15, a report claiming that the Philippines is unhappy with Taiwan's policy to push for visa-waiver status was posted on the website of MECO, the Philippines' representative office in Taiwan in the absence of diplomatic ties.

Written by Rina Jimenez-David of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, it also criticized Raymond Wang, representative of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in the Philippines, and said the Philippines does not have any incentive to enter into a visa waiver agreement with Taiwan.

Campaigning for a visa waiver "is certainly part of his duties as Taiwan's representative, but what certain quarters are decrying is that Wang is going about it in ways that can only be described as boorish and overbearing," it said.

"Wang, who's had little previous experience in the foreign ministry, appears to lack the necessary diplomatic experience and cultural sensitivity," the article read.

It also said that the Philippines has rejected Taiwan's proposal to reach a visa waiver pact because granting Taiwan the privilege would be equal to granting the same right to Chinese travelers and open the door to smuggling.

The post was pulled from the website as of June 25.

(By Nancy Liu)