China Falls Silent on Eve of Cheonan Probe Announcement

China fell silent Wednesday as investigators were poised to announce findings of their probe into the sinking of the South Korean Navy corvette Cheonan on March 26, with all signs pointing to the conclusion that Beijing’s closest ally North Korea was behind the shipwreck.

Xinhua news agency and the English-language China Daily kept mum as the press worldwide reported leaked information that evidence points to North Korea, including the serial number found on fragments of a torpedo.

The unofficial Chinese media did not carry any reports either -- in contrast to media in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Singapore that treated this story as top news. The Chinese Foreign Ministry offered no comment.

Global News, a sister newspaper of the People’s Daily, the Chinese Communist Party's organ, on Tuesday carried a commentary by Jin Linbo, a researcher with China Institute of International Studies, who called for "equidistant diplomacy toward both Koreas." The institute is a think tank affiliated with the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

"We have to say what is right is right and what is wrong is wrong," Jin said. South Korean feelings that China is siding with North Korea will clear "if we respond to the Cheonan shipwreck in an objective and fair way, not trusting what only one side is saying."

"China can play a constructive role on the Korean Peninsula only if it tries to protect its relations with South Korea as well as North Korea," he added.

englishnews@chosun.com / May 20, 2010 09:26 KST