China media: Korea tensions

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A North Korean soldier looks on at the South side at the truce village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarised Zone dividing the two Koreas on 12 March 2014Image source, AFP
Image caption,
The western maritime border is a flashpoint between the two Koreas

Papers are discussing Monday's exchange of fire between North and South Korea, and corruption charges against a top Chinese military official.

South Korea on Monday said that it returned fire after North Korean shells landed in its territorial waters.

According to reports, North Korea announced in a faxed message from its military to the South's navy early on Monday that it would hold live-fire drills in seven parts of the disputed western maritime border area.

Wang Junsheng, a researcher of East Asian studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, tells the China Daily that Pyongyang's move may have been in response to several events, including the current US-South Korea military drills which end on 18 April.

"The shelling is an expression of the DPRK [North Korea]'s dissatisfaction," Mr Wang says, adding that Pyongyang's action was rather restrained this time.

Echoing similar views, a commentary in Hong Kong-based pro-Beijing Ta Kung Pao adds that the recently-concluded Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague may have provoked Pyongyang.

"The summit aims to cut down nuclear weapons… this is in contrast to what North Korea is doing by possessing the weapons, so it might be angered by the anti-nuclear stance of the international community… the firing is then a silent resistance and a stubborn show of power," it says.

A commentary in the Beijing Times observes that the North and the South have largely kept matters under control and avoided bigger conflicts.

"In this conflict, both sides have exercised restraint. North Korea has alerted South Korea's boats not to enter the waters, showing that it wants to avoid real harm. South Korea has fired the same amount of artillery shells, to show that it is not overreacting. Both sides remain at the level of 'demonstrating' and 'expression of their stance'," it says.

Meanwhile, local media outlets report that Gu Junshan, a former high-ranking military officer, has been charged with embezzlement, bribery, misuse of state funds and abuse of power.

Mr Gu was the deputy head of the General Logistics Department of the People's Liberation Army (PLA), making him the highest-ranking officer to stand trial at a military court since 2006.

"Such anti-graft effort will bring shock to the military, and we cannot underestimate its effect on political and commercial areas," an article in the Haiwai website says.

A commentary in the state-run People's Daily praises the new leadership for the "real" anti-graft effort that has "cleaned up the air" in official circles.

"The military is the pillar of the country and the guardian angel of the people… Gu Junshan's case shows that the military has zero tolerance towards corruption, and whoever abused the power, no matter how high the rank is, he will be removed," it says.

China-EU ties

Elsewhere, media continue to analyse China-EU relations as President Xi Jinping ended his 11-day Europe trip on Tuesday after visiting the EU headquarters in Brussels.

Belgium was the last leg of Mr Xi's four-nation European trip. He also visited the Netherlands, France and Germany, and also attended the third Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague.

"Europe and the US have different development ideas and models… but Europe is more pragmatic than the US in its diplomatic goals and it places more emphasis on co-ordination and win-win situation in its diplomatic strategy. The mutual trust and co-operation between China and Europe might push for a more harmonious and prosperous world," Tian Fan, expert on international affairs, tells the Qianjiang Evening News.

And finally, state media lash out at the Philippines for seeking arbitration at the UN over China's territorial claims in the South China Sea.

The People's Daily says the Philippines will not "get its way" by "attempting to abuse" the international law.

"The Philippines is trying to gain international sympathy by portraying the image of a 'small weak nation' and to give China a bad name by making use of international governance… as well as to 'legalise' its occupation of the reef," it adds.

BBC Monitoring reports and analyses news from TV, radio, web and print media around the world. For more reports from BBC Monitoring, click here. You can follow BBC Monitoring on Twitter and Facebook.

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