Mon, February 23, 2009
China > China & World > China-Russia friction over sunk ship

China 'shocked' by ship sinking incident

2009-02-21 08:10:54 GMT2009-02-21 16:10:54 (Beijing Time)  China Daily

China "is shocked" by the sinking of a Chinese cargo ship by the Russian navy off the Vladivostok port and has urged Russia to give a responsible explanation as soon as possible, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said.

Deputy Foreign Minister Li Hui on Thursday summoned the Russian ambassador in Beijing and urged Russian authorities to complete their investigation into the incident and try their best to search for the seven Chinese crew members still missing.

"The Chinese side cannot accept and expresses its strong dissatisfaction to the Russian side over its bombardment of the cargo ship, the lack of a prompt rescue of the downed sailors and the fact that a long time has passed with no results from the investigation," Li said, according to the statement posted on the ministry's website on Friday.

"China was shocked by the incident," he said.

Russia stopped its search-and-rescue operations at about 7:30 pm on Thursday, with nothing found, Global Times quoted Russia News as saying on Friday.

The Sierra Leone-flagged vessel, named "New Star", sank off the waters near Russia's far-eastern port of Vladivostok on Sunday after it was fired on by the Russian military.

Three Chinese sailors were rescued. An official with the Chinese consulate in Khabarovsk told China Daily the survivors are in good condition and have contacted their families.

The cargo ship was held at the Russian port of Nakhodka earlier this month because of suspected smuggling. But it left without permission on Feb 12 to avoid punishment from importing "poor-quality" rice, Russian media quoted local prosecutors as saying.

Russian officials said border guards had to open fire on the Chinese ship because it refused all efforts the Russian side tried to get it to stop.

Russia asked the Hong Kong-based shipping company for $330,000 as compensation for the import, the ship's operator said on Thursday.

The ship's owner, a Zhejiang province-based shipping company, confirmed on Thursday that the missing Chinese sailors come from Shandong and Heilongjiang provinces.

Nanfang Daily quoted Xu Guangyu, secretary of China Arms Control and Disarmament Association, as saying on Friday that he believes the accident will not affect relations between the two countries in the long term.

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