Thaw in relations?


Two separate rescue missions took on a distinctly international flavour earlier this month.

In the first the Chinese icebreaker Xue Long went to the aid of a Russian ship trapped for 10 days in Antarctic ice. The Xue Long’s helicopter then ferried 55 passengers to an Australian vessel nearby.

“Its performance, especially the success in rescuing all the passengers, has been given the thumbs-up by global public opinion,” the Global Times glowed. “China should be proud of it.”

But the next day the Xue Long found itself enveloped in ice flow too. After an unsuccessful effort to break free, an American icebreaker had to be summoned to rescue both the trapped vessels.

Fortunately its arrival was not necessary, and Xinhua reported that national honour was saved early this week when the Xue Long managed to escape the ice of its own accord, making a turn and opening up a clear channel of water.

That was a welcome exit – and a relief – following news that a Chinese cook trying to land a hot air balloon on islands disputed with Japan in the East China Sea had crashed into the sea on January 2. The balloonist then suffered the further indignity of rescue… by Japan’s Coast Guard.

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