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Taiwan threatens sanctions on Philippines in deportation row

Philippine presidential envoy Manuel Roxas (L) shakes hands with Taiwan Foreign Minister Timothy Yang in Taipei.
Philippine presidential envoy Manuel Roxas (L) shakes hands with Taiwan Foreign Minister Timothy Yang in Taipei. Reuters/Nicky Loh

Taiwan has threatened to freeze the hiring of Philippine workers after Manila refused to apologise for deporting 14 Taiwanese fraud suspects to China. Taipei is "strongly angered" by the incident, President Ma Ying-jeou said on Tuesday after meeting with Philippine officials.

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Ma said Taiwan would consider sanctions unless Manila took responsibility for what he called a series of mistakes. He complained that the Taiwanese were sent to China rather than Taiwan, and classified as "undocumented" migrants despite having valid Taiwanese passports.

While expressing "deep regret" for the incident, President Benigno Aquino's special envoy Manuel Roxas insisted that Manila would not apologise.

The Philippines believes it acted "legally and properly" in deporting the Taiwanese nationals to China earlier this month, according to presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda.

Manila adheres to the one-China policy that does not recognise Taiwan as a separate territory.

The row has already prompted Taiwan to cancel visa-waiver schemes for certain Filipinos and tighten screening for Filipinos applying for working visas.

The government is now considering a freeze on the hiring of Philippine workers, according to Taiwan's labour ministry. Around 70,000 Filipinos currently work in Taiwan.

According to Philippine authorities, the 14 deportees were allegedly part of a multi-billion-euro crime ring targeting Chinese nationals.

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