Wen presses Aquino on hostage crisis follow-up

PUBLISHED : Friday, 02 September, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 02 September, 2011, 12:00am

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Premier Wen Jiabao told visiting Philippine President Benigno Aquino face to face for the first time yesterday to properly handle the aftermath of last year's Manila hostage crisis in which eight Hong Kong residents were killed.

The exchange came as survivors and families of victims submitted a petition with about 9,000 signatures to the Foreign Ministry office in Hong Kong to press for an apology from Aquino and compensation from the Philippine government.

Wen told Aquino in Beijing that he hoped the Philippine government would 'pay much attention' to the demands of the Hong Kong government and residents and handle the incident 'properly'. It was one of several subjects the two leaders discussed, according to Xinhua.

Aquino once again expressed regret over the tragedy and said his government had been handling the issue seriously and was willing to keep up communications with the Chinese government.

Tse Chi-hang, younger brother of slain tour guide Masa Tse Ting-chunn, said he welcomed Wen's remarks, but said the premier could have pushed Aquino harder.

'It is too early to say it was a victory,' Tse said. 'It is just a remark from Wen, but no concrete actions had been promised from Aquino. Aquino's response was in line with what he had said previously.'

Tse hoped the central government could continue to press for action through diplomatic channels so that they did not need to pursue legal claims.

However, the survivors and families of the victims are continuing to prepare for legal action after meeting a group of human rights lawyers in Manila last month.

The group launched an online petition last week with an open letter to President Hu Jintao, urging him and other officials to raise the tragedy with the Philippine president, who began a five-day visit to the mainland on Tuesday.