2 weeks after 25 fishermen were arrested for illegal entry and fishing in Palau waters Chinese representatives pressured Chinese officials to release them with a total of $25,000 in fines and time served. Although the fishermen have departed Palau the reason for their encroachment into Palau waters still remains a mystery. Palau’s government has expressed concern that the Chinese nationals may have been involved in a spying and not an illegal fishing as convicted.
After an extensive chase and shooting resulting in the death on one fisherman, the Chinese nationals retreated to their mother ship in fast boats with three engines each. As the National Patrol boat closed in on the vessel the captain set his own ship on fire that sank it in 1,500 feet of water with all the evidence on board. Unofficial reports claim there were giant clams over 6 feet in diameter of the deck of the ship but it is doubtful they will ever be recovered if they existed.
ABC Reports that in Washington the Lowy Institute’s director of polling and research Fergus Hanson said Palau’s president Johnson Toribiong thinks the men could have been more than simple fishermen. ”He found it very suspicious that the Chinese, or these particular people, had gone to the extent of burning their mother ship and setting it alight and then racing off in very high powered speed boats,” Mr Hanson said. ”It’s obviously completely speculation at this stage because the ship was burned down and sunk and all that they have managed to capture is the alleged, supposed, fishermen and their getaway boats”. Palau is located in the south west of the Micronesia region essentially the barrier between China and the U.S. Territory of Guam which is home to several air force and naval military installations.