Media reports revealed that three Chinese fishing boats were seized by unidentified North Koreans and were brought to North Korean waters on May 8. Twenty-nine Chinese sailors were held and the kidnappers have put up their request for ransom. China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs Thursday demanded that North Korea guarantee the safety of the Chinese fishermen and their legal interests.
Rescuing the fishermen is the most important thing. Meanwhile, relevant authorities should publicize the reasons behind the incident and the rescue process. Even if the details cannot be revealed now, they should be made public afterward.
As lives are involved, the severity of the incident cannot be offset by national interests, including Sino-North Korean relations. Chinese authorities should not only rescue the sailors, but also take tough measures to prevent similar incidents.
Some are questioning whether Chinese authorities are excessively accommodating Pyongyang for the sake of bilateral relations. They often make concessions to avoid trouble when there are frictions in both land and maritime border areas, which indulges some North Koreans. We hope such a speculation will be proven groundless.
If the media reports are correct, the kidnappers committed a crime in Chinese waters. This is more severe than South Korean coast guards' violent approach to law enforcement against Chinese fishermen. Those criminals should be severely punished.
China cherishes its friendship with North Korea, but should not give it special treatment. The relevant Chinese authorities should understand that in an information era, any disputes between China and North Korea, especially violations of China's interests, cannot be concealed. If they try to hide the matter, that will only jeopardize their credibility among the Chinese public.
China should take flexible measures to maintain the Sino-North Korean friendship, leaving enough room to protect Chinese citizens' lives and property.
China should retain its prestige in Northeast Asia by rescuing the sailors. No individual or force can threaten the safety of Chinese citizens. They will be strongly countered and made to pay the price.
Sino-North Korean relations should be able to survive pressures. Imagine this: If such an incident occurs between China and another country, a whole host of information will emerge. It's abnormal for the incident to become so sensitive, as North Korea is involved.
We understand that North Korea's national situation is unique, but that should not reduce the importance of the Chinese sailors' safety. The Chinese public won't show more understanding and patience. If relevant authorities won't show their resolution in the process of resolving the incident, the Chinese government will pay the price at the cost of its reputation.
Pyongyang has the responsibility to quickly investigate the incident and ensure the safety of the Chinese sailors. It should clearly understand the public anger of Chinese society. If it wants to gain more support from China, it should leave the Chinese public a good impression.
We are expecting a quick solution to the incident and a detailed explanation by both governments.