How do you repay your only friend in the world? If you’re North Korea, you spend the last few weeks acting like a deranged James Bond villain fingering the red button on a doomsday device, threatening to set off a regional war unless your demands are met, and leaving your ally China, already fairly isolated in the region, to uncomfortably make excuses for you.And if that weren’t enough, you go ahead and hijack your ally’s fishing vessel and demand a ransom:
The Chinese media reports said that the boat was seized May 5, with 16 men aboard, and that the North Korean authorities demanded payment of 600,000 renminbi, or about $98,000, to release them and the vessel, apparently on the grounds that it was fishing in waters claimed by North Korea. The deadline for payment was Sunday, the Beijing Times newspaper said.The owner of the boat, Mr. Yu, drew public attention to its capture through messages on Tencent Weibo, a Chinese microblog service. And on Monday he issued a message saying that he feared his crew had been beaten.
This looks like another not-so-gentle reminder to China that the Norks can cause a crisis whenever they want, so Beijing better fork over more aid with less talk.With friends like these…[Photo courtesy Associated Press]