Read more in Daily Special: China-N.Korea standoff continues over seized fishing boat
Early this month, the Chinese fishing boat Liaoning Generic Fishing No. 25222 from Dalian, Liaoning Province, was seized by North Koreans. China's embassy to North Korea confirmed this on Sunday and asked the North Korean side to release the fishermen as soon as possible and ensure the safety of them and their property, as well as their rights and interests.
The boat owner firmly denied that vessel had crossed the North Korean border when the seizure occurred. Due to the lack of neutral observers, the North Korean version of this issue is naturally different from the Chinese. However, cases like this have been frequent.
Many Chinese fishing vessels have been seized even though they hadn't crossed the border. North Korea always demands boat owners pay a penalty according to the value of the vessels. This leads to a vicious cycle.
In contrast to the Taiwanese fisherman who was recently shot dead by the Philippines, there is no territorial confrontation between China and North Korea. It's more likely the North Korean military police are using the ambiguity of maritime borders to make a quick buck.
Unlike the situation between China and Japan, and between China and the Philippines, the maritime disputes between China and North Korea stand in contrast to the main direction of the bilateral relationship.
The disharmony between China and North Korea on the North Korea nuclear problem is suspected as being a factor in North Korea's maritime actions. However, more likely, there are multiple causes, such as China not taking a tough enough stance in previous cases.
North Korea is a poor country which has little contact with the outside world. This has a direct impact on its willingness to abide by international rules.
It's possible North Korea's understanding of the international law of the sea comes merely from its experiences with China and South Korea. If both China and South Korea's attitudes are feeble, this can give them the wrong impression.
China's relationship with North Korea should be decisive. We should maintain our rapport at the strategic level but should also deal with grassroots frictions decisively. China should argue with North Korea in every case of friction.
If North Korea continues to go rogue, China should take actions to push it toward a more measured response.
China needn't worry too much about the overall bilateral situation. We should let the North Korean side know we are angry.
Chinese authorities should give more attention to the political damage caused by our fishermen being captured. If we don't set rules for North Korea, our whole government's image may be seen as being too weak to deal with maritime issues.
It should be a consensus on both sides that the friendship between China and the North is of more significance to North Korea than China. If it is difficult to teach North Korea in words, we can make it understand in deeds.Related articles:
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