China: Questions Following Mekong River Massacre

The Mekong River Massacre, as it's being called in Chinese, refers to an attack on October 5, 2011, by unidentified armed men against two Chinese cargo boats, Hua Ping and Yu Xing 8, in the Thai portion of the Golden Triangle.

Thirteen Chinese sailors were killed in the attack, for which nine Thai soldiers later turned themselves in. Thai police Chief General Priewpan Damapong has said the killings had nothing to do with the Thai army, and as a joint Sino-Thai investigation continues, speculation varies on the reason why the attack took place.

Chinese military affairs blogger Jun Xiliu wrote [zh] this weekend about the online outrage arising from the attacks and took a closer look at reports from media in Thailand and Myanmar, as well as the latest details, from ammunition recovered during autopsies to statements from different eyewitnesses.

Sailor's hands tied behind his back.

Sailor's hands tied behind his back.

Chinese members of the investigation team have said the next step is to put the nine suspects on trial, leaving Jun demanding answers to a few questions:


Why did Thai soldiers murder Chinese sailors, what was their motive? This is what the governments and people in Thailand, China and around the world are anxious to know. Personally, I can say now with assurance that it definitely was not as simple as Thai police chief Priewpan Damapong said, that “all” the acts of the nine soldiers had “nothing to do with the Thai army.”

They might see China or those 13 sailors as the enemy, which is why they sat waiting on the Mekong River, premeditated and ready to tie the sailors’ hands behind their backs and shoot them all, willing to take responsibility for making China an enemy, otherwise the various explanations make no sense. If their motives aren't made clear through the investigation, this probably won't disappear and that'll be why.


Second, overlooking that both Thailand's media and military are singing some duet now, with media now backing the military version of events and dismissing initial reports [that the drug-smuggling Chinese boats were blocked by Thai police and both sides exchanged fire] as some sort of mix-up and the military swearing that the United Wa State Army was responsible, this all looking all too deliberate.

Chinese thinking says that people who doth protest too much usually try and exculpate themselves by either framing someone else, passing the buck, or tampering with the evidence. So in this case, who's trying to get away with it? The Thai government? They've said this had nothing to do with them. The police? The police are muddling along in cooperation with China in investigating the case, given which, of course the goal is to get the nine suspected soldiers off.

If an explanation isn't given why Thai media are now backing up the military version, then the military's claim that it had no idea of any problems before this took place just doesn't add up.


Third, the earliest media reports said that Thai police exchanged fire for about 30 minutes with drug smugglers, but now all mention by the Thai side of “the shooting incident” has disappeared. Yet, many eyewitnesses verified that the police (or the military) and the “drug smugglers” were definitely shooting at each other. Was this media negligence or an oversight by the government?

Or is it just simply that someone is trying to cover something up? If this doesn't get cleared up, then doesn't that also implicate the government and the police? Apparently there's still a long way to go from having suspects to actually closing this case.


Fourth, if large amounts of drugs were discovered on the Hua Ping and Yu Xing 8 cargo ships and not found to have been stored and transported [by the Chinese crew], then even with the nine soldiers turning themselves in, the case still won't have been solved. As media have said, the arrest of the nine Thai soldiers hasn't brought out the truth behind the October 5 Mekong Massacre, but rather has led to more doubts over the course of events in the case.

A Thai colonel leading the Thai side of the investigation has declined to answer most questions about the case, but one response he did give was clear enough for us to ask: if the investigative team still hadn't questioned the military, then why did the nine soldiers suddenly decide to turn themselves in? Did their superiors push them to, after learning of their involvement? Or were the nine forced to seek god's mercy by their own conscience?

Because given what the Thais have told us, what these nine soldiers did was an isolated crime. But the four countries bordering the Golden Triangle have to be celebrating this particular outcome, otherwise the waters of the Mekong run even deeper than the South China Sea…and have all sorts of international implications.

Jun's post has been viewed more than 400,000 times, but brought in less than 100 comments. Here's some of what his readers had to say:

山笛子 [2011-10-30 10:10:21 AM] 软弱的对外政策导致没有尊严的后果就是可以随便被杀

Our weak foreign policy has left us with no respect and people thinking they can just kill us as they like.

热爱比他 [2011-10-30 10:15:54 AM] 只要把这个事件放在近来的周边事件中看就很清楚啊。

This incident makes clear sense if you consider it against other recent incidents surrounding our border.

[2011-10-30 10:30:56 AM] 只有把9名罪犯引渡过来由中国审讯才可能真相大白,否则又是一个不了了之。文章的最后一段本人认可,就是牺牲中国人的生命,达到阻吓中国国人的目的,让中国退出对湄公河的开发从而达到在南海问题上东盟一致对付中国。有些事真的要顺其自然,不能强求,中国要敢于面对挑战。对东盟国家区分对待,各个击破!

The truth will only come out if these nine criminals are extradited and tried in China. Otherwise, nothing will come of it. I agree with your last statement, that by sacrificing Chinese lives, the goal of frightening Chinese citizens has been accomplished, that making China back off from developing trade along the Mekong will also serve the ASEAN goal of containing China in the South China Sea. Some things just need to be allowed to develop naturally and can't be forced. China needs to rise to the challenge: treat each of the ASEAN nations separately and destroy them one-by-one!

hbxbattery [2011-10-30 10:44:07 AM] 中国人,真的活得有尊严吗?屡屡被小国戏弄,为的是战略机遇期?不懂了!我们想知道,发展的目的是为了什么?是不是就为了被无辜地枪杀?

Can Chinese get any respect in their lives? These little countries keep playing us, is it part of some larger strategy? It makes no sense! We wonder what the point of economic development is—is it to be murdered like this even when innocent?

闫桥 [2011-10-30 11:10:42 AM] 看了您上一篇分析湄公河惨案的文章就一直感觉此事一定同泰国警方有关,可现在却出现了九名军人自首的事,这会不会是欲盖弥彰的障眼法呢?又有报道说这九人根本不承认杀人的事。泰国警方“事关两国友好”的言论又能说明什么呢?是不是和船上发现的毒品有关。总之,从现在的情况看案情调查不会一帆风顺,需要投入更大的力量。

From your last blog post about the Mekong Massacre, it seems that the Thai police are definitely involved in this somehow, but now with these nine soldiers turning themselves in, is this just an obvious cover-up attempt? There have also been media reports saying that these nine refuse to admit that they killed anyone. And what does it mean that the Thai police are bringing “the friendship between the two countries” into this? Does it mean that large amounts of drugs were found on the cargo ships? In any case, it doesn't look like the investigation will just wrap up quietly, much more effort needs to be put in.


  • […] China: Questions Following Mekong River Massacre · Global Voices – The Mekong River Massacre, as it's being called in Chinese, refers to an attack on October 5 by unidentified armed men against two Chinese cargo boats, Hua Ping and Yu Xing 8, in the Thai portion of the Golden Triangle. […]

  • Given the smuggling history of the upper Mekong, it’s hard not to see this as a drug deal, protected by Thai military, gone bad.

    These nine soldiers may well be the killers (that’s what soldiers do) but the reality surely is they’re taking the fall to protect their superiors.

    There is no reason Thai soldiers would be “extradited” to China for trial as the crime was committed here. And Thai courts are rather porous—if the soldiers are convicted, they won’t be long inside.

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