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Thursday, 14 March, 2002, 11:51 GMT
Taiwan and China in fishermen row
Chinese fisherman take shelter off Taiwan during a storm
The Taiwan fishing industry relies on Chinese workers
test hello test
By Michael Bristow in Taipei
line
A delegation from Taiwanese fishery organisations is going to Beijing to try to secure the lifting of a ban on Chinese fishermen working in Taiwan.

Over the last decade, Taiwan's fishing industry came to rely on Chinese workers who made up more than half of all the island's fishermen.

But on 1 February the Chinese Government banned its citizens from working on Taiwanese boats. It claimed Taiwanese companies were violating the men's human rights by paying them less than half the wages given to Taiwanese fishermen.

The mainland workers were also often housed in shabby floating boats moored off Taiwan's shores.

The ban threatens to cripple the Taiwanese fishing industry. Many Chinese workers left their Taiwanese fishing jobs to return home for the lunar New Year last month and have not been able to return to Taiwan.

To try to resolve the dispute, 13 representatives from Taiwanese fishery associations have set off for talks in Beijing.

The issue reveals just how difficult it is to manage disputes between China and Taiwan, which have had no top-level contacts since talks between the two sides stalled in 1999.

In this particular dispute, the Taiwanese were not even officially notified of Beijing's ban. Until the two governments re-establish official links, ordinary people like these mainland fishermen will continue to get caught up in the wider political situation.

Links to more Asia-Pacific stories are at the foot of the page.


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