Hong Kong and the Philippines have announced they have resolved an enduring and deeply emotional row over a deadly hostage crisis, allowing soured diplomatic relations to return to normal.
The breakthrough came after a deal was struck on the most sensitive issues of compensation to the victims of the tragedy, which saw eight tourists from Hong Kong killed following a bus hijacking in Manila in 2010, as well as an apology.
“The resolution of the incident enables the normalisation of the bilateral relations between Hong Kong and the Philippines,” the Chinese territory’s chief executive, Leung Chun-ying, told reporters after the deal was struck.
Hong Kong had long been infuriated by the Philippine government’s response to the incident, in which a disgraced ex-Manila police officer hijacked a tour bus in protest at his sacking.
Day-long negotiations to release the hostages trapped on the bus failed and, with the drama being broadcast live around the world, Filipino security forces bungled a rescue attempt.
They shot dead the hijacker, but eight of the Hong Kong tourists died and seven others were injured.
Philippine President Benigno Aquino admitted mistakes were made in the rescue efforts, but refused to apologise on behalf of the government because he said the hijacker caused the crisis.
Aquino’s refusal to apologise was one of the key factors that led to Hong Kong imposing in February visa restrictions against Philippine government officials.
The Hong Kong government had already issued a “black” travel warning shortly after the fiasco advising its citizens from visiting the Philippines.
Both of those punishments were lifted on Wednesday.
A statement released by the two governments said four demands made by the victims and their families – on an apology, compensation, sanctions against responsible officials and individuals, and tourist safety measures – had been resolved.
The statement said the issue of an apology had been settled by the Philippine government expressing “its most sorrowful regret and profound sympathy”.
It appeared the Philippine government succeeded in avoiding a formal apology.
An apology was instead issued by the Manila city government.
The Philippines had already provided undisclosed financial compensation to victims and their relatives, with the money donated by private individuals.
Wednesday’s statement said more financial compensation would be given, although there were no details on the amount.
Hong Kong media reported the compensation package totalled HK$20 million ($A2.76 million), with HK$1.5 million for each of the deceased and HK$3 million for the injured.