High-seas stabbing of Korean commando worsens ties with China
The killing of a Korean coast guard commando by a Chinese commercial fishing captain is just the latest in a series of clashes, and reinforces popular Korean belief that China is a threat.
(Page 2 of 2)
What are China's intentions?
The greater issue is what the incident says about overall Chinese intentions in the seas on the long periphery of the Chinese mainland. China has provoked nations across Asia by disputes over remote islands.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
More than a year ago, Japanese Coast Guard members arrested the crew of a Chinese trawler that deliberately rammed a Japanese vessel near the disputed Senkaku Islands, claimed by China but held by Japan, south of the main Japanese islands more than a year ago. The captain was released only after loud protests from China.
This episode is different, however, in that the Chinese are not claiming any islands in the area and are not officially saying that Chinese fishermen have the right to fish in those waters. China’s ambassador to Korea, responding to South Korea’s formal protest, promised a full investigation but asked for videotape of the incident – a request that might be hard to fulfill.
“This is going to further influence sentiment in South Korea,” says L. Gordon Flake, director of the Mansfield Foundation in Washington. “My impression is the Chinese have been testing and pushing all along. Nationalism is now prohibiting China from pursuing a common sense diplomacy.”
Making an example
Choi Jin-wook, North Korea director at the Korea Institute of National Unification, sees the episode as a chance to make an example of the fishing boat captain accused of killing one commando and injuring another.
“The most important thing is they killed a law enforcement officer,” says Mr. Choi. “We will bring him to justice. The Chinese government should respect South Korea’s law enforcement.”
Choi believes Chinese fishing boat captains, possibly with the connivance of their government, intrude on South Korean waters in order to exploit South Korea’s long-running quarrel with North Korea over rights to the seas. "They're very greedy," he says. "They always try to take advantage of this problem.”
Get daily or weekly updates from CSMonitor.com delivered to your inbox. Sign up today.