China News Service (CNS, 中新网) / Enorth, July 22, 2012, 07:04 Beijing time —
Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said on Saturday evening that the incident of a Russian patrol boat that shelled Chinese trawlers was an isolated case, and expressed the belief that the case could be solved by the two sides in the spirit of Sino-Russian friendship. It was hoped that the people of the two countries would look at the incident objectively and with cool heads.
A reporter asked: A few days ago, a Russian patrol boat fired at Chinese trawlers which [had] crossed the border into Russia’s exclusive maritime zone, and a collision with a Chinese trawler occured in the process, which resulted in the missing of one Chinese seaman. The Russian Northeastern Federal Security Service border patrol says that the Russian side the pursuit and capture of the Chinese trawlers in Russian maritime territory, that to open fire was legal, and that a request for prosecution had been made to the Chinese Fishing Ministry. What is the Chinese side’s comment?
Hong Lei said that China had made representations to the Russian side, concerning one Chinese fisherman going missing in Russian border security authorities’ arrest of Chinese fishermen fishing in the Russian exclusive maritime zone.
Hong Lei said that in the next steps, the Chinese side will continue to maintain close communication with the Russian side, and make effots to handle the issue as quickly as possible, and appropriately. The aforementioned incident was an isolated one, and it was believed that the two sides would be able to solve the issue in the spirit of Sino-Russian friendship. It was hoped that the people of the two countries would look at the incident objectively and with cool heads. China was now exploring consultations to establish an emergency and early-warning mechanism with Russia to avoid the occurrence of similar incidents in the future, to avoid [them] affecting the overall picture of friendly relations between the two countries.
The foreign ministry published the same CNS article last night.
So did Huanqiu Shibao; without an opportunity for its readers to comment. On an emoticon board, at the time of writing this post, 58 votes express amazement or shock, 1,402 express anger, 74 express sadness, 21 express joy, and 229 feel that the news is ridiculous.
Two days earlier, on Friday, Huanqiu Shibao had reported that China was dissatisfied (不满) about the shelling, and demanded the release of the fishermen. Chinese vice foreign minister Cheng Guoping (程国平) had expressed this dissatisfaction in an emergency meeting with Russia’s chargé d’affaires in China [apparently Alexander Kozlov]. Russian violent law enforcement (粗暴执法) and use of military force had led to the Chinese crewman going missing. Chen had demanded that the Russian side should investigate thoroughly, communicate the results to the Chinese side immediately, guarantee the safety of the arrested crews, and treat them in accordance with their legal rights and humanitarian standards. The crews should be released as quickly as possible, and every effort be made to find the missing crewman (合法权益和人道主义待遇，尽快放船放人，全力搜救失踪人员).
Under that article, the commenting function was enabled.
China’s foreign policies are too weak. Even small countries like Vietnam and the Philippines dare to challenge. Of course, Russia doesn’t need to care about China – 中国在对外政策上太过软弱，连越南 菲律宾 这等小国也敢挑衅，俄国当然不会把中国放在眼里,
wrote one commenter, and
Russians are like polar bears – they have no bit of humanity. When interacting with Russia, one shouldn’t regard them as people – 俄罗斯像北极熊，没有一点人性。与俄罗斯打交道，不能把它当作人看待,
But there were efforts to maintain the spirit of friendly relations with Russia, too. Apparently, there had been traitors among the crew who had been bought by America or Japan – […] 很明显，那些越界捕捞的渔民有被美、日收买利用的嫌疑，或许是被美、日收买利用故意破坏中、朝关系，中、俄关系的特务、汉奸，同时敬请中国渔民自律、自爱，自觉以国家利益为上！不要贪图个人利益而损害国家利 explained a Hidden Star Dragon (伏星龙) who states his birthplace as “Hsinchu, Taiwan Province”.
Huanqiu Shibao is a state-owned paper with a readership which appears to be particularly quick to (nationalist) anger, but Beijing appears to searching for a middle way between the need to maintain friendly reations (or a strategic partnership) with Russia, and to satisfy a nationalist audience at the same time, according to the South China Morning Post (SCMP, Hong Kong).
A rather soft statement from the Chinese consulate in Khabarovsk had been posted on the consulate’s website, which basically reflected the Russian side of the story. The consulate also initially stated that noone was reported injured. The Chinese foreign minister confirmed a day later that one fisherman was actually missing, according to the SCMP. This led to vice foreign minister Chen Guoping summoning “a senior Russian diplomat” (apparently Kozlov, see above) on Thursday. FMPRC spokesman Hong Lei’s statement on Saturday evening was only the latest step in the process, and once again a try to de-escalate the issue.
According to Xinhua, the two trawlers hail from Weihai, Shandong Province.
» Beijing criticizes FSB action, Ria Novosti, July 20, 2012
» China “strongly dissatisfied”, Maritime Connector, July 20, 2012
» Unacceptable, China Daily, July 18, 2012
» Greater Japanese Awareness (including a Huanqiu poll), July 15, 2012
» Hit and Tow, June 10, 2011
» FSB sinks Chinese freighter, Febr 19, 2009