S Korean coast­guard fires ma­chine guns at Chi­nese trawlers

The Myanmar Times - - World -

SOUTH Korean coast­guard ves­sels have, for the first time, fired ma­chine guns at Chi­nese boats il­le­gally fish­ing in Korean wa­ters, an of­fi­cial said.

No ca­su­al­ties were re­ported from the in­ci­dent on Novem­ber 1, the first of its kind since the coast­guard an­nounced last month that it would pur­sue a “more ag­gres­sive” firearms pol­icy with Chi­nese trawlers.

Dis­putes over il­le­gal fish­ing have dogged re­la­tions be­tween South Korea and China for years, and there have been clashes be­tween the coast­guard and Chi­nese crew mem­bers.

Se­nior coast­guard of­fi­cial Kim Jung-shik said the or­der to fire came dur­ing a stand-off with some 30 Chi­nese fish­ing boats il­le­gally op­er­at­ing near the South’s Yel­low Sea bor­der with North Korea.

“They tried to ram our ships al­though we re­peat­edly warned them,” Mr Kim told Yon­hap news agency.

“I thought our of­fi­cers would be in dan­ger if I al­lowed any more re­sis­tance so we ended up using the crew ser­vice weapon,” he said.

Ini­tial ma­chine gun bursts were fired into the air, but the crew were later or­dered to fire at the bows of the Chi­nese boats that were sail­ing di­rectly at the coast­guard ves­sels.

Two Chi­nese trawlers were seized in the clash.

China’s for­eign min­istry said it was “strongly dis­sat­is­fied” at the ac­tion and urged Seoul to “dis­ci­pline” its coast­guard.

“Using de­struc­tive weapons can eas­ily hurt fish­er­men and we urge the ROK (South Korea) side to avoid using any ex­ces­sive or ex­treme tools in their law en­force­ment ac­tiv­i­ties,” spokesper­son Hua Chun­y­ing said.

Seoul has been urg­ing Beijing to take a tougher stand on its ves­sels that have en­tered the South’s wa­ters in in­creas­ing num­bers to sat­isfy grow­ing demand for fresh seafood.

Small wooden Chi­nese ships were once tol­er­ated in an area where the pri­or­ity has al­ways been guard­ing against in­cur­sions from North Korea.

But in re­cent years, the small boats have given way to larger steel trawlers which en­gage in bot­tom trawl­ing – drag­ging a large weighted net across the seabed that sweeps up ev­ery­thing in its path. –

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