BEIJING — Armed North Koreans are holding a Chinese fishing boat and its crew for ransom despite the protests of Chinese officials, the boat’s owner said Monday.
The boat’s seizure — which occurred early this month but was revealed by Chinese officials only Sunday night — is the latest dust-up between North Korea and China, which Pyongyang has long relied on to prop up its economy and defend it from international censure efforts by the United States and others.
The vessel’s owner, Yu Xuejun, was not on board when the boat was seized. He has posted increasingly desperate messages about the situation on his microblog in the past two days. In the latest post Monday morning, Yu described a call he received from North Koreans, who demanded ransom and then handed the phone to his boat’s captain.
“His voice was trembling. I could feel he was very afraid,” Yu wrote about his captain. “I suspected that my crew has been mistreated. I can’t imagine what North Korea side could do.”