An official Chinese newspaper on Tuesday sounded a belligerent note in a dispute over illegal fishing by Chinese trawlers in Korean waters, warning that unless regional neighbors back down they must "prepare for the sounds of cannons."
In an editorial after Korea clamped down on illegal Chinese fishing, the English-language Global Times said unless countries in territorial disputes "change their ways with China, they will need to prepare for the sounds of cannons." The editorial was titled "Don't take peaceful approach for granted."
Korean marine police on Saturday detained several Chinese fishermen who were caught in Korean waters. "Recently, both the Philippines and South Korean authorities have detained fishing boats from China, and some of those boats haven't been returned. China has been increasingly confronted with sea disputes and challenged by tough stances from the countries involved. These events have been promoting hawkish responses within China, asking the government to take action," the paper said.
Chinese media have emphasized the harsh treatment of the Chinese fishermen by Korean police rather than pointing out that they were trespassing. Although Korean police say they reacted only when the Chinese fishermen started threatening them with shovels and sticks, the reaction of the Chinese public has been largely angry.
"Currently, China's mainstream understanding is that it should first go through the general channels of negotiating with other countries to solve sea disputes," the paper said. "But if a situation turns ugly, some military action is necessary."
However, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Jiang Yu on Tuesday said the issue needs to be solved through dialogue and negotiation. "The position of the Global Times is just a stance of one newspaper, and I don't want to comment on that," she added.