North Korea allegedly hijacked a Chinese fishing boat, kidnapping 16 crew members and demanding a ransom of 600,000 yuan, according to local media Southern Metropolis Daily (@南都深度) and the boat owner Yu Xuejun.
Yu said on a Tencent microblog (@于学君 ), another Chinese version of Twitter like Sina Weibo, that his boat “Liao Pu Yu No. 25222 (辽普渔25222号)” with a crew of 16 members was in Chinese waters on May 5 armed North Koreans boarded and detained the boat; the “North Korean side” demanded a ransom 600,000 yuan. “North Korean side” required the ransom to be paid before May 19, which means that by now the deadline was passed and the situation of the boat and its crew members remains unknown.
The reported incident went widespread comes after North Korea firing anther short-range missile from its east coast on May 9, following the launch of three missiles last Saturday, an act that added to the already tense situation between North Korean and China.
Moreover, such alleged incident was not the first time this year and it is getting more frequent recently, quoted a public security official by Southern Metropolis Daily. In fact, North Korean detaining Chinese fishing boats has its precedent in last year when 29 fishermen was kidnapped by unidentified North Koreans who demanded a 1.2 million yuan ransom. The fishermen were returned without ransom on May 20, 2012.
The incident also triggered a widespread discussion—often an expression of anger—among Chinese netizens. Most of them tend to display a strong sense of nationalism on microblogs, BBSs and other online platforms, advocating that the Chinese government should take a hardline stance when it comes to foreign affairs. Sina Weibo user @清华吴大辉 wrote:
“…it is not unusual to see North Korean fishing boats entering our waters, but we never detain them. Russia, on the other hand, takes a much stronger stance. Few years ago, North Korean fishermen often slipped into Russian waters to steal fish but Russia never compromised. Nearly 300 North Korean fishermen were caught and detained in 2006 alone and North Korean fishing boats are no longer seen to have enter Russia waters nowadays. Mao’s child is like a spoiled child. If we do not reflect on this matter, we will have endless troubles in the future.”
User @自由中产 commented:
“The hijacking of the Chinese fishing boat happened on May 5 and it still remains unsolved as of now. Is this the efficiency of our government? North Korea is monstrous and enormous whereas China disregards human life; they two really constitute a good brotherhood. ”
Some mocked implicitly the way North Korea behaved.
“A primary school student cut his neighboring classmate’s hand. The teacher asked him why. He said, because his hand crossed the line and was on MY desk; I meant to cut his clothes but I cut his hand accidently; please do not sanction me because this would not do anyone any good.” wrote user @黄秋生.
Tensions between North Korea and China, seen as its sole major ally as China has been describing the China-North Korea relation as “a friendship that is bonded by flesh blood”, have been high in recent months after North Korea carried out a nuclear test in February.
Many Chinese people do not perceive the China-North Korea as what the Chinese government propagandas, advocating that Beijing should take a hawkish stance against the “old friend”. Deng Jinwen, former editor of Study Times, a well-known communist newspaper, explicitly suggested that China should “abandon North Korea, considering it has already become a negative equity to China”, leading critics think that Beijing was indeed taking a different approach towards North Korea.
However, Deng was suspended after his article was published on Financial Times on February 28. And Global Times, a mouthpiece media for the Chinese Communist Party, issued an editorial on April 12 titling “to advocate abandoning North Korean is too naïve”, a move that showcased despite the popular thoughts, Beijing still decides to go on with its current relation with North Korea: “a friendship that is forged in blood”.