Posted by ampontan on Sunday, November 21, 2010
TWO CHINESE SHIPS have appeared near the Senkaku islands, according to this AFP report.
Ships? What ships?
Well, that’s how the headline has it:
Japan says two Chinese ships seen near disputed islands
That’s also what the lede says:
Two Chinese ships were spotted near islands at the centre of a dispute between Beijing and Tokyo, Japan’s coast guard said…
Some details on the ship emerge in the second paragraph:
A Japanese patrol aircraft saw an advanced Chinese fisheries patrol ship in waters near the island chain in the East China Sea around 8:25 am (2325 GMT) on Saturday, a coast guard spokeswoman said, before finding a second vessel 20 minutes later.
Ah. That kind of ship.
They made it all the way to the fifth paragraph before the first error appeared.
Both countries claim the potentially resource-rich islets, known as the Diaoyus in China and Senkakus in Japan, along with the nearby seas.
Ignored for millennia by the Chinese and considered little more than a maritime highway sign, the Senkakus were incorporated by Japan 115 years ago. Some Japanese lived there for about 45 of those years to work for a fishery/albatross feather business. The Chinese and the Taiwanese considered them part of Japan until 1971, after it was discovered that they were “potentially resource rich”.
Japan “claims” them in the same way the United States “claims” the Florida Keys.
Then again, maybe that’s not technically an error. Maybe that’s what the journalism trade schools teach as unbiased reporting.
They still manage to slip in their own worldview in the sixth paragraph:
The latest dispute broke out in September and has brought ties between the Asian rivals to their lowest point in years, fuelling nationalist anger in both nations.
There’s that “nationalist” word again. When a Chinese ship enters Japanese territory and attacks two Japanese Coast Guard vessels, and the Japanese public doesn’t care for it, that’s “nationalist anger”. What sort of behavior are they contrasting that with, one wonders. “Break out the K-Y jelly”?
The important information about one of the ships doesn’t appear until the seventh paragraph:
Saturday’s maritime encounter came after a helicopter-equipped advanced fisheries vessel left Guangzhou in China for the East China Sea on a mission that could last 20 days, according to a report Tuesday by the state Xinhua news agency.
But maybe they didn’t bring along the helicopters this time. In the eighth paragraph:
It was unclear whether a chopper was on board because the ship closed the shutter of its helicopter hangar, Japan’s coast guard said.
The AFP finally tells us what the ships did in paragraph 10:
“The two vessels came as close as 23 kilometres (14 miles) to the islands,” the coast guard spokeswoman said, adding that the ships had not entered what Japan considers its waters.
More important information about the ships in paragraph 12:
The ship that set off from Guangzhou, the 2,580-ton Yuzheng 310, is “the fastest (of China’s fishery patrol vessels) and had the most sophisticated technologies”, Xinhua quoted an official as saying Tuesday.
They recapitulate the reason for the dispute in paragraph 17:
The row erupted in September when the Japan Coast Guard arrested a Chinese trawler captain for allegedly ramming two of its vessels in the area.
And John Kennedy allegedly acquired a large, bloody hole in his head in Dallas in 1963. That’s probably how the AFP would report the story if it happened today. Can’t blame them: All they have to go on are films of the actual event made public and eyewitness testimony in both cases. None of the perpetrators in either of the alleged incidents went to trial.
The AFP report was filed on Saturday, 20 November at 2:17 a.m. ET. That was 4:17 p.m. Japan Time. But it’s so hard to keep up with breaking stories in a 24-hour news cycle.
Why, fewer than three hours later on the same day, NT television news in Japan reported that the Nanfang Daily, the official newspaper of Guangdong Province, carried a statement from a spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs:
“(Ships) will permanently patrol this area of the sea.”
It looks like they’ll be there more than 20 days.
Just a few minutes before, NT also reported that Xinhua said one of the ships, the Yuzheng 310, had just been placed into service (last month, in fact), and that machine guns were installed on the deck. Their helicopter filmed some personnel on the ship dressed in camouflage clothing.
Slightly less than two hours after the AFP story, NHK reported that there were no Chinese fishing boats in the area.
Almost four hours after the AFP article, the Mainichi Shimbun reported that the Chinese ships were not merely circumnavigating the Senkakus, but repeatedly approaching Japanese territorial waters as if they were going to enter. They kept coming as close as 360 meters before sharply veering away. The Japanese Coast Guard described the behavior as “provocative”.
The Mainichi also reported the Yuzheng 310 was identical in design to Chinese military vessels, according to Chinese sources.
So, Chinese fishing patrol craft under the control of the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture (which also is responsible for fisheries), identical in design to Chinese military ships, one of which is armed with machine guns and could be carrying helicopters—meaning it could be classified as a light amphibious assault vessel—and some of whose crew members are wearing camouflage clothing, is deliberately testing Japanese defenses independent of the presence of Chinese fishing ships. The Chinese Foreign Ministry says they’re permanently assigned to patrol the area.
Most of the critical informaton wasn’t included in the AFP article. To understand what their intent for this sort of coverage might be, let’s go back to the final two paragraphs—numbers 19 and 20:
On the sidelines of a regional summit in Japan at the weekend, the two sides appeared to take a step beyond the dispute when Chinese President Hu Jintao held a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan.
Hu promised that China was committed to being a good neighbour, as concerns rise over its assertive behaviour in the Asia-Pacific.
Here’s an NT television report showing films of the good neighbor’s ships. You already know the information the news reader is presenting.
Just think how many fish Taj could catch if he used helicopters and machine guns!