Chinese Press Tones Down Rhetoric Over Illegal Fishing Dispute

      December 15, 2011 10:44

      A state-run Chinese newspaper on Wednesday toned down its belligerent rhetoric over the murder of a Korean coast guard by Chinese fishermen and urged Korea to understand that Chinese fishermen are "forced" to fish illegally in Korea's exclusive economic zone.

      The editorial in the stance English-language Global Times marks a departure from the paper's previously heavily nationalistic tones over the issue, which was followed the next day by an even milder op-ed headlined "Do Not Let Disputes Taint Sino-Korean Ties."

      The coffin of Coast Guard commando Lee Cheong-ho is being carried to a funeral site near a pier at Incheon on Wednesday.

      The editorial said Chinese fishermen are not "an arrogant group of bandits" but merely trying to eke out a living and that Koreans must understand that the fishermen are generally poor and less educated than they are.

      Earlier, when Chinese fishing boats were seized by the coast guards of Korea and the Philippines, the newspaper had warned that Koreans should be prepared to hear the "sound of cannons" unless the two countries change their tactics.

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