By Sasha Padbidri
29 Chinese fishermen kidnapped by North Koreans have finally been freed and are now home in China.
Prior to their return, there had been speculation that the people behind the kidnap could have been rebel DPRK citizens, or even a scam by the owner of the boat himself. The masterminds, however, turned out to be North Korean officials themselves.
According to Reuters:
“Pyongyang has sought to strengthen ties with Beijing through frequent visits and praise of their friendship, but the North can also be resentful about what it sees as infringements of its territory, and Chinese dominance of relations”.
This “Chinese dominance” seemed to have been displayed by the Chinese embassy in Pyongyang, who ultimately negotiated the release of the fishermen. Whether or not this might happen again remains to be seen, given that the areas the fishermen fish in are “claimed by both China and its neighbours”.
Meanwhile, Zhang Dechang, who was one of the kidnapped fishermen, claimed that his captors included both North Koreans and Chinese. Hmm…are those double agents we smell? Perhaps the drama hasn’t reached its conclusion after all!