Posted by: Third Tone Devil | 22 December 2010

Little uproar about death of fishermen rammed by Korean boat

The BBC and Financial Times reported on 20 December that a Korean patrol boat rammed a Chinese fishing boat in Korean territorial waters, causing the death of two fishermen. The FT said the incident has not been reported in Chinese media, perhaps because the government does not want to antagonize Korea further at a time of tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

A cursory look at Chinese online forums reveals less uproar than I would have expected. The nationalistic-militaristic website Iron Blood has, after an initial report, a relatively short and, by the standards of the site, definitely subdued comment on the issue, saying that the Chinese government is not speaking out because it doesn’t want to anger America and claiming that the waters in which the incident took place are actually Chinese, but not calling for any action against South Korea. Response to the post appears limited.

But another website has what it says is a repost of a Peking Morning News article, which provides a report on the incident, referring in turn to China’s Central People’s Radio Broadcasting. This is a rather factual report, with the only question raised being whether the incident really took place in Korea’s territorial waters. There are no comments.

A post on the Global Times’ blog platform, calling for justice for the fishermen, got no comments either. Nor did another on the People’s Daily’s server.

Mystifying! For one thing, why can’t Chinese posters agree on whether the news were reported in official media or not? For another, why is the response so lukewarm, when in fact two people are dead? Is it because, as one poster wrote, “there are no heroes” in this incident, and posters are less concerned with death than with heroism? Or is it because an increasingly capricious and rhapsodic censorship is in action?

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