The Chinese Foreign Ministry vehemently criticized Korean maritime police for cracking down on Chinese trawlers that were illegally fishing off the coast of Mokpo on Oct. 23, but is treading softly over the seizure of another fishing boat by Japanese authorities.
The Chinese fishing boat was seized on Tuesday by the Japanese Coast Guard while illegally fishing off the coast of Nagasaki. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters his government has "noted relevant reports and is currently investigating and verifying the situation. This is an ordinary fishing incident." Hong added Beijing hopes that Japan "conscientiously protects the legal rights of the Chinese sailors and appropriately resolves this issue as soon as possible."
China appeared wary of having the incident escalate into a full-blown maritime dispute.
But on Oct. 24, after three Chinese trawlers were seized by Mokpo maritime police, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu demanded Seoul enforce its laws in a "civilized manner" by avoiding violence and guaranteeing the safety and rights of its citizens. She left out the fact that Chinese fishermen resisted arrest by wielding shovels and bludgeons and reserved her criticism for Korean police.
Observers say China is reacting differently because Tokyo is taking an aggressive approach in a territorial dispute with China over the Senkaku or Diaoyu Islands, while Seoul has usually dealt with illegal Chinese fishing discreetly by quietly turning the vessels back to China.