Fishing clash won't impede course of realistic Sino-Russian ties

Source:Global Times Published: 2012-7-23 20:45:03

Russian coastguards have seized a Chinese fishing boat and detained crews after opening fire on the vessel on July 16. It has been confirmed that no one on board has died though one Chinese is missing.

Illegal cross-border fishing has long been a problem confronted with many countries like China, Japan and Russia. Different countries may take different actions to protect their rights and interests. Russia is more likely to take direct actions while China, often only issues verbal warning.

In fact, this is not the first time that Russia has fired at Chinese civilian boats since 2009. In these cases, Russia's reactions to Chinese fishermen are violent. But we should recognize that this incident is just an isolated case instead of a political incident.

The Chinese vessel entered Russia's exclusive economic zone, which is a sea zone where a state has special rights over the exploration and use of marine resources. China should understand Russia's need to defend its rights but also China should express strong dissatisfaction about the attack.

One fact is that this incident was not intentionally directed at China. Some foreign media misinterpreted this incident without acquainting themselves with this. There are still some others using the incident to stir up tensions between China and Russia.

Friendship between China and Russia is determined by the overall strategic situation instead of some individual incidents.

There is strategic cooperation on major international and regional issues between China and Russia, especially on issues of international security, including opposition to efforts at the UN Security Council to enact tougher measures against Syria.

China views Russia as the most important strategic partner. We should avoid burning our house to rid it of a mouse.

However, problems do exist between the two nations.

China and Russia have a comprehensive and coordinated strategic partnership. Nevertheless, it doesn't mean that there is no gulf or conflict between the two. China and Russia both have its own national interests. Just like any other bilateral relationship in the world, Sino-Russian relations are finally determined by national interests. Conflicts or even confrontations are inevitable, as shown in the fishing case. However, these problems can be avoided by economic or legal means.

China and Russia should handle these problems in a rational, practical and realistic way. This incident should not be escalated into political friction.

Exaggerating this unfortunate occurrence will only harm Sino-Russian friendship. It will be highly undesirable for both sides to see things worsen.

Preventive measures should be taken to avoid the recurrence of these fishing disputes.

On the Chinese side, we should popularize basic knowledge of foreign law and international law.

We should enhance Chinese fishermen's understanding that it's illegal to fish in other countries' waters, so they can restrain themselves and reduce cross-border fishing.

On the Russian side, the use of violent law enforcement methods is unacceptable to China and other countries. Law enforcement officers should avoid using violent means. We hope that Russian border patrol officers can respect Chinese fishermen's personal safety and use means that are in line with international norms and humanitarianism.

Only by these methods can fishing disputes between Russia and China be reduced and the Sino-Russian relationship develop on a healthier track.

The article was compiled by Global Times reporter Shu Meng, based on an interview with Li Xing, professor of School of Political Science and International Studies at Beijing Normal University.

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