Failure to promptly report North Korean criminal case embarrasses media

Source:Global Times Published: 2015-1-8 9:46:47

According to reports by South Korean media outlets on Mon¬day, a runaway soldier from North Korea killed four Chi¬nese citizens during a robbery after crossing the border into the Yanbian Korean Autono¬mous Prefecture in Jilin Prov¬ince on December 27.

The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs then responded the incident later on Monday, adding that China had "lodged representations" to North Ko¬rea and "China's Public Securi¬ty Department is now process¬ing the case in accordance with the law."

The Chinese media is now making follow-up reports.

Obviously, it is inappropri¬ate that no voice over the case, involving the death of four Chi¬nese citizens, has been heard from the Chinese side for more than a week, until it was first re¬ported by a South Korean news agency.

It is not clear why the rele¬vant authorities delayed releas¬ing the information for such a long time.

Maybe the relationship be¬tween Beijing and Pyongyang is deemed too "sensitive." However, it is quite clear that the North Korean deserter rep¬resents neither the North Ko¬rean army, nor the government or the people. He deserves punishment after committing a crime, and this has nothing to do with bilateral relations.

The incident reflects the porous border between North Korea and China. Indeed, strict prevention of illegal border crossings is not easy, given the two countries share a frontier over 1,400 kilometers long. But this is not a reason to downplay a criminal case. On the contrary, the news should have been broadcasted as soon as possible, in order to inform border residents to take appro¬priate precautions.

There have been other cases that involve foreign nationals committing crimes in China.

For drug cases alone, we have arrested smugglers from the UK, Japan, South Korea and the Philippines. Informa¬tion on most of them was re¬leased on time and the cases were handled according to the law. So why be extra sensitive when it comes to cases involv¬ing North Korea?

We believe the state of ties between China and North Ko¬rea is not that fragile, and the authorities who deal with bi¬lateral relations should not put too much weight on simple matters.

China and North Korea are surely able to adapt to nor¬mal state-to-state relations. If Pyongyang finds it hard, we should help and guide it to the path of normal ties.

Whenever diplomatic inci¬dents occur in China, they are always known to the public through foreign or third-party reports. Chinese authorities and the mainstream media have no excuse for maintaining this norm, since if it continues, both government departments and Chinese media will lose their credibility.

This time, when the South Korean news agency reported the army deserter incident, it gained more credibility, and we lost it.

China has repeatedly em¬phasized the importance of strengthening its work in the management of public opinion and international communica¬tion. But the task will be in vain if the country keeps building and destroying it at the same time.

Thus, we sincerely hope that the authorities could enhance their awareness of establish¬ing their credibility, and regard maintaining credibility as one of their priorities. Looking back on the cases in the past, we have indeed undervalued it.

It must be well aware that credibility is the core interest of a country, and it should be considered the starting point of China's modern governance.

The article is an editorial from the Chinese edition of the Global Times on Tuesday. opinion@

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