Joint investigation is the keyIt is best to stick to the facts when statements contradict. An argument can be resolved by determining who and what is right and wrong. That is why, in formal investigations, it is imperative to identify, gather and preserve evidence to determine who is accountable.
The truth behind the collision of a South Korean Coast Guard vessel and a Chinese fishing boat in the Yellow Sea can also be easily determined after a study of the facts.
To resolve the issue, the two countries can form a joint team to investigate the matter and then take action based on the results. That’s what matters most. There is no need for an emotional response that could start a diplomatic fight.
Yet the touchy response from the Chinese foreign ministry is overblown and incomprehensible. It put all the blame on the Korean side and demanded that Seoul punish those responsible for the collision and compensate for China’s losses of life and property.
The South Korean government has reportedly shown its Chinese counterpart all the video footage and radar records related to the event, in which a Chinese fishing boat that was illegally fishing in Korean waters capsized when it rammed into a Korean Coast Guard patrol ship.
Yet Beijing has discounted the facts in a formal statement in an effort to depict the incident in its favor.
The Korean Maritime Police Agency explained that the overturned Chinese fishing boat had intentionally collided with the Coast Guard ship to help other ships return to Chinese waters during a chase, after they had been caught illegally fishing in South Korea’s exclusive economic zone.
One Chinese fisherman died after he was rescued from the water and another is still missing.
However, under a bilateral fishery agreement signed in 2001, it is within our right to chase and prevent illegal fishing activities on our side of the fishing zone.
The Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman who made the statement left all these details out, as well as the fact that the Chinese fishermen intentionally hit the Korean Coast Guard ship and wielded steel pipes, injuring several Korean Coast Guard officers.
All of this can be uncovered through a joint investigation conducted by the two sides.
We urge both countries to embark on such an investigation and take the necessary steps before the event escalates into a more serious diplomatic spat.
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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