See all those languages up there? We translate Global Voices stories to make the world's citizen media available to everyone.

Learn more about Lingua Translation  »

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:

第一,泰国军人为什么枪杀中国船员,它的动机是什么?笔者相信,这是国际、泰国政府、中国政府和人民急切想了解的。笔者以个人之见,在这里可以肯定地说,绝不是泰国警察总监飘潘说的“9名军人的所作所为系个人行为”那么简单。他们也许相当仇视中国、仇视这13位船员,并且在湄公河上等这13名船员等待多时了,有组织、有预谋地反铐着船员双手、进行枪杀,宁可承担起与中国为敌的责任,否则,从哪个方面都解释不通。如果动机不调查一清二楚,这就是导致此案接下来不了了之的重要原因。

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.

第二,先不说泰国媒体与军方开初的一唱一合、上演双簧,意下如何,就说泰国媒体画出“乌龙”误导舆论、泰国军方信誓旦旦直指“佤邦联合军所为”,也显得是有意而为之。按照中国“此地无银三百两”的剖析法:一要栽赃、二要转嫁,三要搞乱视线,最后达到为某方开脱的目的。那么,为谁开脱呢?为泰国政府?政府说此事与己无干。为警方?警察正懵懂地配合中国联合调查组调查呢,这下才明白,当然是为9名作案军人开脱,如果不把媒体与军方一唱一合的“双簧”戏解释清楚,军方事先不知情是说不通的。

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.

第三,最早媒体说,泰国警方与毒贩在水上交火长达半小时,这次泰方通报案件时,闭口不提“交火事件”,但据多名目击者证实,警察(或军方)的确与“毒枭”交过火。是媒体的过失、还是政府的疏忽,或者干脆某方的故意省略。如果不解释清楚,是不是连政府部门和警察都牵扯进去了?看来,破案距结案的路还很长。

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.

第四,在“华平号”和“玉兴8号”货船上查出的大量毒品,如果不还原于藏毒、运毒过程,即使9名军人自首了也等于没有破案。正如媒体说的,9名泰国军人的归案并未使得“10·5”惨案的真相大白于天下,反倒使案件早先的几个疑点更为突出。泰国警方负责刑侦事务的副总监批西(音译)少将,尽管大多数问题他都表示不便回答,但有一个问题他回答清楚就行:调查组还未查到军方,为什么9名军人就主动前来自首?是他们的首长知道后督促他们前来的,还是他们9人的良心发现而祈求上帝的宽恕?如果按他们的说法,这9名军人的作案仅仅是孤立的案件,笔者倒是替湄公河四国三方庆幸,如若不然,湄公河水比南海还深……并且已经楔入国际背景了。

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.
  • Pingback: China Readings for October 31st | Sinocism()

  • 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.

Receive great stories from around the world directly in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the best of Global Voices
Email Frequency



No thanks, show me the site