North Korea-South Korea: On 22 May, a North Korean coastal battery fired two artillery shells about 150 meters from a South Korean patrol ship operating about 10 kilometers south of the Northern Limit Line (NLL) in the Yellow Sea. The South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff spokesman said no casualties or property damage were reported.
The South Korean corvette fired back several shells into North Korean waters, aiming at a patrol ship about two kilometers north of the NLL. Some 20 South Korean and 20 Chinese fishing boats were in the area at the time.
Comment: The North has not used coastal artillery to fire on a patrol ship before, according to South Korean authorities. It has threatened frequently, but not fired. The South Korean action in firing back indicates the South is implementing its policy of not standing for any more bullying by North Korea. The North did not return counter-fire.
Talks. Part of the backdrop to this incident is a meeting in Mongolia between US and North Korean delegations to explore prospects for resuming Six Party talks.
Comment: These are talks about talks. There is no evidence to link the two events, but the North's strategists customarily like to ensure that all parties understand that its willingness to talk does not signify weakness. They do this by staging a provocation, such as sending patrol craft into South Korean waters.
The North wants talks with no conditions and openly describes them as aid talks. The US wants the North to take action on the denuclearization commitments it has already made, before the US will consider new steps and additional aid.
China: Two car bombs killed 31 people and injured 94 when they detonated in a market in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang. The attackers also threw explosives. Chinese officials called it a 'violent terrorist incident.' Most analysts judge the Uighur separatists are responsible for the attack.
Comment: The Chinese government has been taking a hardline approach to Uighur attacks, but it does not seem to be working well. That almost always implies that the militants have some form of official tolerance, if not support, at some level.
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