The Philippines admitted Friday that its coast guard fired at a Taiwan fishing boat and left a crewman dead, but refused to apologize over the incident.
China said Friday it will keep a close eye on development of the issue, expressing concern over the Philippines' repeated use of force against fishermen.
"We demand that the Philippines investigate the case immediately and explain the incident as soon as possible," said Hua Chunying, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman.
"We express deep grief over the death of the Taiwan fisherman and give condolences to the victim's family.
The Chinese side is strongly concerned about the Philippines' repeated use of force against unarmed fishermen," she said.
In Taipei, Taiwan leader Ma Ying-jeou on Friday demanded that the Philippines apologize for Thursday's shooting, which the Taiwan fishing authority said killed a 65-year-old fisherman and badly damaged the vessel.
"We demand the Philippines investigate and clarify the truth, to apologize, apprehend the killer and compensate," Ma told reporters.
But Philippine coast guard spokesman Commander Armand Balilo said Friday the incident took place in "Philippine waters," and the Filipino personnel had been properly carrying out their duties to stop illegal fishing.
"If somebody died, they deserve our sympathy but not an apology," Balilo told reporters. He said the incident happened just north of the main Philippine island of Luzon in the Balintang Channel, which is part of "Philippine waters."
The 30-meter coast guard vessel initially saw two fishing vessels and tried to approach them, he said, and the coast guard crew fired at the smaller vessel after it tried to ram the Filipino boat.
"They fired at the machinery to disable it. They were able to disable the vessel, although they were not aware at the time that somebody had been hit," he said.
The incident dominated Taiwan media on Friday, which strongly condemned Manila and carried reports saying the Taiwan boat's captain insisted he did not cross over into "Philippine waters."
"Barbaric Philippine vessel fired at our fishing boat, seasoned fisherman shot dead," read the headline of a front-page story in the Taipei-based China Times newspaper.
Hung Yu-chih, the captain of the boat who is also the dead man's son, told the newspaper that Philippine gunmen fired several shots at them. He said one of the shots hit the fuel tank of the vessel, which had only four people on board.
Two Taiwan fishing boats came to Hung's rescue after he called for help, and towed the boat back to a port in southern Taiwan.
AFP - Xinhua