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13 lives lost in Mekong deserve more respect   2011-10-11 09:20:00

Thirteen Chinese people were killed after their cargo ships were hijacked and attacked on the Mekong River on October 5. Although many details of the incident remain unclear, one certain thing is that the Thailand police did not track and verify the situation of the hijacked Chinese and did not negotiate with the criminals to rescue the victims, but blindly started a shoot-out, taking the hijackers for drug dealers.

Most of the bodies of the 13 Chinese sailors appeared in the Mekong River on October 7 and 8, blindfolded and with their hands tied behind their backs.

Relevant governments, especially that of Thailand, made no efforts to rescue the sailors, and they revealed the incident to media several days after the fact. For them, this seems to have been only a normal event for which no punishment or responsibility must be meted out.

There are a large number of Chinese traders and sailors operating on the Mekong River, they cannot protect themselves effectively and it is difficult for China to do so given the complex regional situation. China's main means of protecting its people abroad is using local laws and cooperating with local governments. Under special situations such as war, China will send battleships to rescue its people.

A nation's diplomatic image and national strength are vital to the protection of its people abroad. As China doesn't interfere in the domestic issues of other countries, it maintains a relatively good image in most areas of conflict or unrest. The kidnap-murder cases of overseas Chinese occasionally happen, but these are not political events aimed at China. China's way of handling such cases is to provide stronger protection for its citizens such as enhancing security over its investments in volatile regions.

However, the recklessness and cruelty of the hijackers and the simple way the Thai police handled this latest incident is astonishing and reminds us of the Hong Kong tourists that were kidnapped in the Philippines and died during a botched rescue attempt on August 23 of last year.

In the Golden Triangle region, the sanctity of Chinese life is not safeguarded by law enforcement. Beyond the reach of Chinese police, various forces in this region seem to think they can offend China with impunity.

Since we have many traders and workers in the area, the incident cannot be left unsettled. China should take full part in the investigation, and urge relevant countries to launch a powerful strike on those responsible. Besides, the responsible people should be punished and a full apology issued.

Chinese diplomacy has taken people-oriented as a principle. To fulfill this commitment, it is possible that China will face diplomatic frictions with certain countries and may resort to force.

China is the country of all Chinese. The more seriously we protect our people, the more cohesive the country is and the more respect it will gain from the world. 


source : Global Times     editor:: Ma Ting
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