China urges North Korea to release fishing boat crew

 

China is urging North Korea to release a Chinese fishing boat whose owner says it was seized by gun-toting North Koreans earlier this month and held for ransom, in the latest irritant in relations between the neighboring allies.

The seizure of the Liaoning-based boat adds to China's frustration with North Korea over its recent tests of nuclear and rocket technologies in defiance of international efforts to curb the country's nuclear ambitions.

At the same time, the Chinese government is under intense pressure domestically to ensure the safety of citizens who venture abroad or out to sea to seek their livelihoods. Another abduction by North Koreans of Chinese fishermen about a year ago — along with allegations they were beaten — sparked furious criticism among citizens in China's blogosphere.

"Whatever you call North Korea — rogue state or whatever — these kind of cases just keep happening," said a Liaoning Maritime and Fishery Administration official who identified himself only by his surname, Liu. "We had such cases last year and the year before. There's very little we can do to prevent them."

Yu Xuejun, who wasn't aboard the boat, first publicized the seizure on his microblog late Saturday saying that North Koreans seized his boat on May 5 in Chinese waters and that they demanded a 600,000 yuan ($100,000) ransom. Yu, posting on a verified Tencent Weibo account, said he was asking for help from Internet users and China's Foreign Ministry. His post was reposted and commented on more than 12,000 times.

In another plea for help on Monday, Yu wrote on his blog that he received another call from "the North Korean side" on Sunday night, still demanding money.

"My captain gave me the phone, his voice was trembling, could feel he was very afraid, told me no later than 5 p.m. today," Yu wrote. He said he suspected his crew had been mistreated.

The official Xinhua News Agency, in its first report of the incident late Sunday, said diplomats in the North Korean capital had received a request for help from Yu as early as May 10, and that they had demanded at the time that North Korea release the boat.

In May of last year, a North Korean boat hijacked three Chinese boats with 29 fishermen on board, reportedly for a ransom of $190,000. Two weeks later, they were freed — some of them stripped of everything but their long johns — and were widely quoted in Chinese media on their return as saying they had been beaten and starved.

China is North Korea's economic lifeline, providing nearly all of its fuel and most of its trade. North Korea's economic dependence on China is rising, following a standoff with South Korea that effectively shut an industrial park that was an important source of hard currency. Still, Beijing has had difficulty controlling its neighbor, and early this year began joining Western nations in moves to punish Pyongyang with economic sanctions.

Xinhua, citing Chinese Embassy official Jiang Yaxian, said the embassy had contacted the North Korean Foreign Ministry's Bureau of Consular Affairs, "asking (North Korea) to release the boat and the fishermen as soon as possible."

Jiang said the embassy would "continue efforts to ensure that the issue will be properly addressed at an early date."

The respected Southern Metropolis Daily reported earlier Sunday that Yu received a call from North Korea saying his boat had entered North Korean waters — although he maintains it was in Chinese waters.

Liu, the fishery official, said he was not sure where the boat was at the time of the seizure.

"It is not clear. The owner of the boat says it was in Chinese waters," Liu said.

Yu was quoted the Southern Metropolis as saying the North Korean side had first asked for the ransom to be paid by noon Sunday to a company in Dandong, a city in northeastern China on the North Korean border, or that they would confiscate the boat and repatriate the crew. The newspaper didn't mention whether Yu had paid any money.

Arts & Entertainment
Ricky Gervais at a screening of 'Muppets Most Wanted' in London last month
tvAs the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian on why he'll never bow to critics who habitually circle his work
Arts & Entertainment
Don (John Hamm) and Megan (Jessica Paré) Draper are going their separate ways in the final series of ‘Mad Men’
tvReview: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
News
news
Life & Style
Going down: Google's ambition to build an elevator into space isn't likely to be fulfilled any time soon
techTechnology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
News
David Cameron sings a hymn during the enthronement service of The Most Rev Justin Welby as Archbishop of Canterbury, at Canterbury Cathedral last year
news
Life & Style
From long to Jong: Guy Pewsey outside Mo Nabbach’s M&M Hair Academy in west London before the haircut
fashionThe Independent heads to an Ealing hairdressers to try out the North Korean dictator's trademark do
Sport
Vito Mannone fails to keep out Samir Nasri's late strike
sportMan City 2 Sunderland 2: Keeper flaps at Nasri's late leveller, but Black Cat striker's two goals in 10 minutes had already done damage
Extras
indybest10 best smartphones
News
peopleRyan Gosling says yes, science says no. Take the A-list facial hair challenge
Arts & Entertainment
tvCreator Vince Gilligan sheds light on alternate endings
News
Paul Weller, aka the Modfather, performing at last year’s Isle of Wight Festival in Newport
people
Arts & Entertainment
Play It Forward: the DC Record Fair in Washington, US
musicIndependent music shops can offer a tempting alternative to downloads on Record Store Day
Sport
video
News
Supermarkets are running out of Easter Eggs
Deals make eggs cheaper than normal chocolate
Life & Style
Wasp factory: 1.3 million examples of the Vespa scooter have been sold in the last decade
motoringIconic Italian scooter still revving up millions of sales
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Online Advertising Account Executive , St Pauls , London

£26K-30k + Bonus, Private Medical Insurance, Company Pension: Charter Selectio...

Advertising Account Executive - Online, Central London

£25K-28k + Bonus, Private Medical Insurance, Company Pension: Charter Selectio...

Senior Infrastructure Consultant

£50000 - £65000 Per Annum potentially flexible for the right candidate: Clearw...

Public Sector Audit - Bristol

£38000 per annum + Benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: Do you have experience of ...

Day In a Page

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics

Is sexual harassment a fact of gay life?

Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics
Kim Jong-un's haircut: The Independent heads to Ealing to try out the dictator's do

Our journalist tries out Kim Jong-un's haircut

The North Korean embassy in London complained when M&M Hair Academy used Kim Jong-un's image in the window. Curious, Guy Pewsey heads to the hair salon and surrenders to the clippers
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part
Vespa rides on with launch of Primavera: Iconic Italian scooter still revving up millions of sales

Vespa rides on with launch of the Primavera

The Vespa has been a style icon since the 1950s and the release this month of its latest model confirms it has lost little of its lustre
Record Store Day: Independent music shops can offer a tempting alternative to downloads

Record Store Day celebrates independent music shops

This Saturday sees a host of events around the country to champion the sellers of well-grooved wax
10 best smartphones

10 best smartphones

With a number of new smartphones on the market, we round up the best around, including some more established models
Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

The former Australia coach on why England must keep to Plan A, about his shock at their collapse Down Under, why he sent players home from India and the agonies of losing his job
Homelessness: Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Zubairi Sentongo swapped poverty in Uganda for homelessness in Britain. But a YMCA scheme connected him with a couple offering warmth and shelter
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park
The pain of IVF

The pain of IVF

As an Italian woman vows to keep the babies from someone else’s eggs, Julian Baggini ponders how the reality of childbirth is often messier than the natural ideal
Supersize art

Is big better? Britain's latest super-sized art

The Kelpies are the latest addition to a growing army of giant sculptures. But naysayers are asking what a pair of gigantic horse heads tells us about Falkirk?
James Dean: Back on the big screen

James Dean: Back on the big screen

As 'Rebel without a Cause' is re-released, Geoffrey Macnab reveals how its star perfected his moody act