China, N Korea ties turn sour over fishermen abduction
Beijing: With Sino-North Korean ties turning sour over a host of recent incidents, including abduction of 29 Chinese fishermen, the official media on Friday said that no "special treatment" should be extended to Pyongyang in securing the release of the abductees.
While Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said the two countries were in communication over the fishermen's abduction, state-run Global Times daily demanded that China should act sternly with North Korea in getting the abducted fishermen released.
The fishermen along with their three boats were abducted by unidentified North Koreans on May 8 in Chinese waters, according to media reports.
The rare incident took place after Beijing in recent weeks showed its frustration with the reclusive state by denouncing North Korea's failed rocket launch and sternly warning against its attempts to carry out any nuclear test.
China also allowed six North Korean refugees, who took refuge in the South Korean consular offices in China, to go to Seoul, much to the chagrin of North Korea.
The permission came as a goodwill gesture by China before a meeting between South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak and his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao on May 14 on the sidelines of the China-Japan-South Korea trilateral.
It is not yet clear whether the abduction of the Chinese fishermen by the North Koreans has anything to do with the changes taking place in China's longstanding policy of backing Pyongyang.
Chinese officials, requesting anonymity, expressed frustration over the aggressive policies being pursued by Kim Jong Un, who took over power after the death of his father Kim Jong Il last year.
The strains were reflected in a write-up in the Global Times which said "some are questioning whether Chinese authorities are excessively accommodating Pyongyang for the sake of bilateral relations."
They often make concessions to avoid trouble when there are frictions in both land and maritime border areas, which indulges some North Koreans. "We hope such a speculation will be proven groundless," it said.
"China cherishes its friendship with North Korea, but should not give it special treatment. The relevant Chinese authorities should understand that in an information era, any disputes between China and North Korea, especially violations of China's interests, cannot be concealed. If they try to hide the matter, that will only jeopardise their credibility among the Chinese public," it said.