Chinese citizen killed by South Korean Coast Guard while illegally fishing in Yellow Sea. Japanese information blitz, planned joint naval exercise with US, and visit to the Yasukuni Shrine prevents de-escalation of Sino-Japanese tension. University student files lawsuit against Cai ¡°Uncle House¡± Bin. Former Cambodian king and long standing ally of China Norodom Sihanouk passes away in Beijing. These are the top stories for the week of October 19 from the People¡¯s Republic of China.
China protests after Chinese fisherman shot dead in clash with South Korean
A Chinese fisherman aboard a boat illegally fishing in South Korean waters in the Yellow Sea was shot dead on October 16 by a South Korean Coast Guard officer during a raid.
According to the Yonhap News Agency, the South Korean authorities discovered 30 Chinese boats that were illegally fishing in the southwestern sea about 90 kilometers northwest of Hong Island in Shinan County, South Jeolla Province. Coast guard officers attempted to stop the Chinese boats and arrest Chinese fishermen, but the fishermen violently resisted them. A coast guard officer fired five rubber bullets and one of them hit a Chinese fisherman with a surname Zhang. The fisherman was sent to hospital immediately but died later. South Korea later detained 23 Chinese fishermen on October 17 following the death of a member of the crew. The Chinese foreign ministry spokesman and the Chinese embassy in Seoul expressed protest and strong dissatisfaction and requested South Korea to conduct an investigation on the death of the fisherman.
The news sparked a new wave of nationalist sentiment against South Korea on the Internet in China in the context of Sino-Japanese dispute on the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands. Unlike the situation of the Diaoyu Islands, some Chinese netizens who have some knowledge of international ocean laws admit Chinese fishermen¡¯s repeated infringements of the Exclusive Economic Zones of other countries, calling up other Chinese netizens to calm down and reflect the problems within current Chines fishery and environmental policies.
Netizens in South Korea and other neighbor countries expressed the discontent against Chinese illegal fishing and exploitation of other countries¡¯ natural resources. While advocating local governments to adopt harsher law enforcement policies, some netizens and commentators expressed concern about Chinese reactions.
(Yonhap News, October 15; Xinhua News Agency, Yonhap News, October 16; Bloomberg, The Wall Street Journal, October 17)
Japanese Information Offensive, Joint Naval Exercise with US Keeps Diaoyu Tensions Alive
Recent moves by Japan and China have kept relations cool between the two East Asian powers, largely dampening optimism that a planned meeting between top foreign policy ministers of Japan and China could ease tensions over the disputed Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea. Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba announced October 12 that he was visiting Great Britain, Germany, and France to present Tokyo¡¯s case for control of the contested islands. The Asahi Shimbun also announced that Gemba created a pamphlet explaining Japan¡¯s position to be distributed by Japanese diplomats. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei released a statement claiming the China was ¡°¡closely following the development and reserve[s] the right to react further.¡± US Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns visited Japan and China during the past week in an attempt to demonstrate Washington¡¯s support for a joint solution to the crisis between Japan and China, according to foreign policy analysts.
Burns¡¯ visit was overshadowed by the announcement of a joint naval drill by Japan and the US scheduled for November 5-16. The exercise will consist of Japanese and US forces simulating an amphibious and aerial assault on uninhabited Irisunajima Island in Okinawa Prefecture. The Japanese Defense Ministry claimed the exercise was designed to counterbalance ¡°Chinese maritime expansion¡± in the East China Sea and stated that the drill was planned prior to the purchasing of three islands in the Diaoyu/Senkaku group that sparked the crisis. China views the location of the drill as a thinly-veiled substitute for the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands, and many questioned the timing of the drill, noting that it will overlap with the 18th Party Congress in Beijing, which is scheduled to open on November 8. Japanese officials, including opposition leader Shinzo Abe also visited the Controversial Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo on October 18. Abe is considered more aggressive on China than current Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, and Abe¡¯s party is considered to have a good chance of defeating Noda¡¯s in upcoming elections. The Yasukuni Shrine is highly controversial as it commemorates the souls of Japan¡¯s war dead, including 14 people convicted of war crimes during Japan¡¯s imperial march through East and Southeast Asia during the 1930¡¯s and 1940¡¯s. China and South Korea have used official visits to the Yasukuni Shrine to criticize Japan for not acknowledging its colonial past.
(Asahi Shimbun, October 14; Xinhua, October 15; China Digital Times, CCTV, Global Times, October 16; Al-Jazeera, October 18)
University student demands salary information disclosure from government official
Cai Bin, the 56-year-old Party Committee Member of the Guangzhou City Administration and Law Enforcement Panyu District Branch, has been the center of media attention in China. Cai was revealed by Internet bloggers to be in ownership of 21 real estate properties valued at 40 million yuan. The blog showed a list of real estate properties registered under the name of Cai, Cai¡¯s wife, and his son. The blog cited a ¡°Certification of Individual Real Estate Registration Inquiry¡± produced by the Archive of Real Estate of the Housing Administration Bureau of Guangzhou City. Netizens nicknamed Cai ¡°Uncle House.¡± The Panyu District Discipline Inspection Committee investigated the situation and announced that the Internet blog was correct about the amount of real estate properties that Cai held. According to Regulations issued by the General Office of the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee, leading cadres were required to report personal matters. Beginning in 2011, the Panyu District Party Committee has asked all leading cadres to disclose real estate ownership information. Cai reported, for both 2011 and 2012, that he himself owned one housing-reform property, and his son owned one self-built property. Cai¡¯s intentional concealing of the rest of his 19 properties led to the Panyu District Party Committee to suspend Cai while conducting further investigations. On October 10, Duan Guochao, a second-year student from Nanjing University of Posts and Telecommunication, decided to file applications to request Cai¡¯s salary information. Duan mailed applications to both the Guangzhou City Administration and Law Enforcement Panyu District Branch and Panyu District Department of Finance. By October 13, both offices have signed and received Duan¡¯s express mails. Duan explained his reasons behind filing these applications, because ¡°officials¡¯ salary is taken from the people; it involves the vital interest of every citizen, and therefore should made known to the public, but the government never discloses voluntarily.¡±
(Xinhua, Beijing News, International Daily News, October 11; Beijing News, October 12)
Former Cambodian King Sihanouk dies in Beijing
Praised and mourned by Chinese leaders as ¡°China¡¯s great friend¡±, the former King of Cambodia Norodom Sihanouk died in Beijing on October 15 at the age of 89. The king, who played a pre-eminent role for over 70 years in Cambodian history, was also known for his puppet regime. He lived through WWII, established Cambodia¡¯s independence from France, survived an assassination attempt from Vietnam, formed a de facto alliance with China during the Vietnamese war, supported the infamous communist Khmer Rouge regime which was responsible for the deaths of nearly 2 million Cambodians, and exiled himself to China twice during volatile political situations. The early 1990s witnessed him as a figurehead king with minimal power until his abdication in 2004. In the same year he took up residence in Pyongyang and Beijing, which he preferred as a ¡°second home¡±.
Sihanouk was a household name in the 1970s China through the state media and high-school history textbooks. His close ties with Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai extended into China¡¯s later leaderships as he and his wife attended a National Day reception party in Beijing with China¡¯s old and new statesmen on October 1, 2009, the 60th anniversary of the founding of PRC.
Coverage of his death is widespread in China and the national flag on Tiananmen Square was lowered to half-mast on October 17, which aroused criticism from Chinese netizens about China¡¯s overreaction for a foreign leader¡¯s death. China rarely shows such ceremonial respect for its own people in terms of severe casualty in disasters. Chinese experts are helping embalm his body, a process similar to the one used to preserve the body of Mao Zedong in the 1970s.
(South China Morning Post, November 12, 2002; South China Morning Post, October 1, 2009; BBC, November 17, 2011; BBC, Reuters, Radio Free Asia, October 15; South China Morning Post, October 16, 18