REUTERS - China expressed "strong dissatisfaction" over the Russian military's sinking of a Chinese cargo ship, accusing Russia of being too slow in the rescue the downed sailors and in explaining why the ship had been fired on.
Seven Chinese were still missing after a Russian warship shot 500 rounds into the "New Star" last Saturday in stormy seas off Vladivostok, Chinese newspapers reported.
The ship was held at the Russian port of Nakhodka earlier this month, suspected of involvement in smuggling. It left without permission last week, the China Daily said.
Li Hui, China's deputy foreign minister, on Thursday told the Russian ambassador in Beijing that Russia should step up efforts to rescue the seven missing sailors. The Chinese foreign ministry published the details of Li's comments on Friday.
"The Chinese side cannot accept and expresses its strong dissatisfaction to the Russian side over its bombardment of the cargo ship, the lack of a prompt rescue of the downed sailors and the fact that a long time has passed with no results from the investigation," Li said, according to the Chinese-language statement posted on the foreign ministry's website.
China says three Chinese crew members were rescued and seven are missing.
Russia's authoritative Kommersant business daily wrote on Thursday that the ship's crew consisted of 10 Chinese nationals and six Indonesians, including the captain.
Kommersant also quoted a statement by Russian border guards blaming the captain of the ship for the deaths of his sailors.
"(He) did not take all necessary measures to fight for the survivability of his ship," the border guards said.
Ties between Beijing and Moscow warmed considerably in 2000-08 during the Russian presidency of Vladimir Putin, a proponent of a strong centralised state who visited China several times. Putin is now Russia's powerful prime minister.