China, it appears, has redefined ransom payments. It’s called rescue.
Late last week the Chinese transport ministry issued a press statement that the tanker Golden Blessing, had been ‘rescued’ and its crew were safe. Inevitably there was much speculation about whether any pirates had been captured by the ‘rescuers’. In fact the rescue consisted of paying the pirates $2.8m. The payment coincided with the release of Samho Dream for $9.5m.
This is not the first time that a ransom payment has been referred to as a ‘rescue’ by Chinese authorities. On 19 October 2009 the bulker De Xin Hai was hijacked in the Indian Ocean, 350 nautical miles North East of the Seychelles. The Chinese government announced that it has rescued the vessel. Some $4m was paid for the release of De Xin Hai.