China re­buffs S Korea over sink­ing of coast guard ves­sel

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

China said yes­ter­day South Korea’s coast guard should not have been op­er­at­ing in part of the sea where one of Seoul’s pa­trol boats sank last week dur­ing an op­er­a­tion to crack down on a group of Chi­nese fish­ing boats.

South Korean coast guard ves­sels reg­u­larly chase Chi­nese boats for fish­ing il­le­gally off its coast, at times re­sult­ing in vi­o­lent con­fronta­tions. The dis­putes are an ir­ri­tant in re­la­tions be­tween China and US ally South Korea, even as their eco­nomic re­la­tions grow close and they share con­cerns about North Korea’s nu­clear weapons and mis­sile pro­grams.

South Korea’s Min­istry of Pub­lic Safety and Se­cu­rity, which over­sees the coast guard, said one of its pa­trol boats sank last week dur­ing an anti-il­le­gal fish­ing op­er­a­tion off the Korean penin­sula’s west coast.

Chi­nese For­eign Min­istry spokesman Geng Shuang said where the in­ci­dent hap­pened was an area where, ac­cord­ing to a bi­lat­eral fish­ing agree­ment, South Korean ves­sels should not be car­ry­ing out law en­force­ment op­er­a­tions.

China had lodged a protest with South Korea and de­manded the coun­try “calmly and ra­tio­nally” han­dle the in­ci­dent, Geng told a daily news brief­ing. South Korea’s coast guard said on Tues­day that its of­fi­cers would be au­tho­rised to use firearms, in­clud­ing hand­guns and on­board can­non, against il­le­gal Chi­nese fish­ing ves­sels if deemed threat­en­ing.

Chi­nese spokesman Geng said such ac­tions would not re­solve any­thing and could only worsen the prob­lem. “China again de­mands South Korea strengthen their con­trols on law en­force­ment per­son­nel.”

South Korea’s coast guard cap­tured two Chi­nese fish­ing boats il­le­gally op­er­at­ing off the west coast early on Wed­nes­day and brought them to a South Korean port, an Incheon Coast Guard of­fi­cial told Reuters by tele­phone.

Three Chi­nese fish­er­men were killed last month in a fire that broke out on their boat when a South Korean coast guard crew try­ing to ap­pre­hend them for il­le­gal fish­ing threw flash grenades into a room in which they were hid­ing, ac­cord­ing to a South Korean of­fi­cial.—Reuters

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