DPRK frees Chinese fishing boat

UPDATE 1 (2013-5-27): According to the Global Times (PR China):

Chinese agencies operating in Dandong, Northeast China’s Liaoning Province have been implicated in the seizures of Chinese fishing boats for ransom by armed North Koreans.

The Beijing Times quoted Zhang Dechang, whose boat was seized by North Koreans in May last year, as saying that he was given a cellphone number registered in Dandong and was demanded to pay a ransom to the cellphone owner. However, Zhang failed to reach the cellphone owner, and the number later was canceled.

The report said Zhang asked the boss of a Chinese agency in Dandong, which represents North Korea in handing out licenses for Chinese fishermen to fish in North Korean waters, for mediation but was turned down. He claimed a Chinese boat took part in the looting of his boat when the North Koreans seized it.

A North Korean patrol ship, which has hijacked several Chinese fishing boats, is said to be a retired Chinese ship and given to the North by a Chinese agency, the report said.

Yu Xuejun, whose boat was hijacked by North Koreans for two weeks this month, earlier told the Global Times that the kidnappers asked him to pay ransom to a bank account of a company in Dandong, but he failed to catch the name of the company.

The Guangzhou-based Nandu Daily quoted an unidentified fishing boat owner as saying that the Chinese agencies in Dandong are related to the company which is collecting the ransom.

There are three major agencies in Dandong representing North Korea. The fishing boats, which obtained licenses from the agencies, fly both Chinese and North Korean flags and can enter certain areas inside North Korean waters.

The Chinese boat owners, whose boats had been hijacked, insisted that their boats were operating in Chinese waters when they were captured.

Sun Caihui, whose boat was seized by North Koreans in May last year and released after the intervention of the Chinese government, told the Global Times Monday that local fishermen have been operating on the western side of 124 degrees east longitude for generations, which has long been regarded as the demarcation line of the sea border between China and North Korea.

“We aren’t going to take the risk of being seized by the North Koreans again,” he said, calling on the government to clarify the sea border with the North so as to address the concerns of fishermen.

However, there is no available official documentation on the sea demarcation between the two countries.

Meanwhile, Sun Chen, a professor from Shanghai Ocean University, said Monday that the Chinese fishery authority should strengthen law enforcement activities to protect the fishermen.

“Currently, we face shortages in personnel, equipment and spending of the fishery management department. The government should attach importance to the building of the law enforcement force,” she said.

ORIGINAL POST (2013-5-21): According to Bloomberg:

North Korea freed a Chinese fishing vessel and its crew after the boat’s owner posted updates on his microblog account saying that he’d been told to pay a 600,000-yuan ($97,800) ransom to win their release.

The ship and its crew, from the northern city of Dalian, were freed today, the official Xinhua News Agency reported, citing a Chinese consular officer in North Korea. The ship’s owner, Yu Xuejun, said on his Tencent Holdings Ltd. (700) microblog account today that he couldn’t come up with the cash and was “thankful to the Foreign Ministry for its diplomacy.”

China, which filed a formal complaint over the detention, is asking North Korea to investigate and “make a full explanation to us,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said today. No ransom was paid to secure the crew’s freedom, China National Radio reported today, without citing anyone.

“There is no territorial confrontation between China and North Korea,” the editorial said. “It’s more likely the North Korean military police are using the ambiguity of maritime borders to make a quick buck.”

Last year a North Korean ship seized three Chinese fishing and demanded 300,000 yuan to free each vessel.

Read the full story here:
North Korea Frees Chinese Fishing Boat After Ransom Report


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