Not content with being a thorn in the side of China’s suspicious neighbors in Vietnam and the Philippines, Chinese fishermen are starting to annoy China’s close friends as well, Reuters reports:
Sri Lanka’s navy said on Monday it was still holding 37 Chinese fishermen to appear in court on charges of fishing within its waters, contradicting a report by China’s Xinhua state news agency that they had been released.Sri Lanka arrested the fishermen on Sunday night for fishing in Sri Lankan waters. They were aboard two trawlers off the country’s east coast town of Batticaloa, Xinhua said.“They are in our custody and they have not been released yet,” Sri Lankan Navy spokesman Kosala Warnakulasuriya told Reuters.
Chinese outlets had reported that the prisoners had been released, but on Monday Sri Lanka reasserted that they remained in prison.China is Sri Lanka’s most important investor and was a close ally during its diplomatic spat with India and the U.S. over a war crimes investigation stemming from the Sri Lankan civil war. The Sri Lankan government doesn’t want to jeopardize that friendship, but it does want to send a message to Beijing: Don’t fish in our waters. China has heard this message quite a bit these days from a number of its neighbors, but it’s a message it apparently has no intention of heeding.