Sunday, April 03, 2011

Taiwanese Officials Returned to the Philippines but Not much Progress in Normalcy

By Kevin Stoda

As many Filipinos and Taiwanese readers are aware, in late January and early February 2011, Taiwan had called its leading consulate officials back from Manila following the Filipino governments mishandling of the extradition of Taiwanese nationals to the Peoples Republic of China–without obtaining Taiwanese approval of the extradition.

At the same time, Taiwan also made it nearly impossible for Filipino nationals to obtain and extend work visas in Taiwan, i.e. as a further response to the Filipino action. (This affected my Filipina wife–who was discouraged from applying for a visa–and thousands of Filipinos who have lived in Taiwan for years.) Hundreds of Filipinos in Taipei, in the Philippines, and elsewhere protested their being held hostage to this debacle.

“On March 15, Taiwan lifted its recently imposed restrictions on Filipinos seeking to work in the country, ending a month-long diplomatic row between the two sides,” Taiwan News reported.

“The removal followed Manila’s punishment of its immigration officials who were responsible for mishandling matters involving the deportation of the Taiwanese fraud suspects to China.

“Manila’s removal of its top immigration officials could be seen as a type of apology, and was in line with Taipei’s expectations, ” the Taiwanese foreign ministry [MOFA] said in a statement issued March 15.

Finally, at the end of March the senior Taiwanese Envoys and Consulate Officials returned to Manila.

Donald Lee is the Chief Taiwanese Envoy. It was noted at the time of Lee’s returne that his main goals would include ” negotiating with Manila authorities on how to devise a mechanism to fight cross-border crime and develop judicial assistance, and he will also explore the possibility of an economic partnership agreement.”

Supposedly relations should already be back to normal for Filipino nationals needing or seeking visas in Taiwan, but I have yet to see evidence that things have gotten better. For example, every time I contact the Taiwanese consulate in Kansas City about my wife’s visa, new requirements and rule changes continue to arise from these U.S.A.-based Taiwanes [MOFA] immigration officials.



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