News / Asia

N. Koreans Demand Ransom for Detained Chinese Fishermen

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei answers reporters' questions in Beijing, China  (File)Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei answers reporters' questions in Beijing, China (File)
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Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei answers reporters' questions in Beijing, China  (File)
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei answers reporters' questions in Beijing, China (File)
Stephanie Ho
BEIJING - China Central Television and the Beijing News are reporting a rare public maritime spat between China and North Korea.   
 
A North Korean gunboat is reported to have seized several Chinese fishing boats, with a total of 29 people onboard, in the Yellow Sea earlier this month. The North Koreans who are holding the boats and sailors demanded nearly $190,000 for their release and set Thursday as the deadline, or else they will sell off the boats.
 
Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei indicated that there is a conflict, but he gave few details.
 
He said China is maintaining close contact with North Korea to try to find an early solution to the case. He also demanded that the other side ensure the safety, rights and interests of the detained Chinese fishermen.
 
The spokesman did not elaborate, when asked to confirm whether a ransom is being demanded or whether China suspects any North Korean government involvement.
 
Chinese fishing boats have occasional conflicts with South Korean, Japanese and Philippine authorities while fishing in disputed waters, but it is rare for them to be seized by North Koreans. There are also reports that there are Chinese among the hijackers.
 
Meanwhile, the spokesman also had little to say about four South Koreans who are being held in northeastern China after authorities detained them in March.

Earlier this week, the South Korean foreign ministry said Seoul has asked Beijing to handle the case in a fair and swift manner.
 
The Chinese spokesman Thursday would only say that “competent Chinese authorities have been investigating this issue according to law.”
 
The South Koreans under detention appear to have been in contact with North Korean refugees in northeastern China to find out about life and conditions in their homeland.

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Comments
     
by: Jonathan Huang from: Chinese Canadian
May 17, 2012 6:25 PM
To me the first reaction is that China is preparing excuses to punish N.K. Recently, N.K. seems is out of control, and must be disciplined.


by: Cả Thộn from: Hà Nội
May 17, 2012 1:21 PM
It's time for North Korea getting out of Chinese orbit. It's time for North Korea to keep distance from hungry,greedy,dirty China. This also signals the end of Chinese Communist empire.


by: Anonymous
May 17, 2012 12:11 PM
Truth is stranger than fiction: While the Chinese Navy is sailing half shod in the waters of Asia commandeering the fishing fleets of small defenseless nations; the little North Korean thorn stuck in their southern border is looting the Chinese fishing fleets.


by: Jim from: Chattanooga
May 17, 2012 10:27 AM
The North Koreans are really dumber than a door knob. To play tough against Communist China is like taking a sharp knife and slicing one's throat. It doesn't take much for China to destroy the N. Koreans. Maybe that is the best thing for all humanities. Less numb-nuts to deal with.

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