South Korea on Sunday filed a protest against China after two Chinese boats illegally fishing in Korean waters sank a Korean coast guard boat in their attempt to flee.
According to Incheon Coast Guard, the vessels, assumed to be 100-plus ton steel ships, on Friday deliberately crashed into an Incheon coastguard’s 4.5-ton speed boat, which was patrolling the area for illegal fishing in waters off Incheon in the western side of the peninsula, and fled the scene.
A 50-year-old marine officer fell into the water and was rescued by a nearby patrol boat. No others were injured.
The Foreign Ministry in Seoul filed a formal complaint to Beijing’s consul-general after the Coast Guard condemned the incident earlier Sunday.
“South Korea will keep a close eye on the matter as the root of the problem derives from illegal fishing by the Chinese,” the ministry said.
Lee Joo-seong, head of the Coast Guard’s central region, called the action “attempted murder.”
He called in China’s deputy consul-general to Seoul and expressed deep regret, asking for the Chinese government’s self-regulation and arrest of the two culprit ships.
Ju Gi-chung, China’s deputy consul-general to Seoul, at the Central Regional Headquarters of Korea Coast Guard in Incheon on Sunday (Yonhap)
“China’s illegal fishing boats are crossing the line. We are considering using weapons against violent ships, which we have been refraining from, and will not allow such things to happen again,” he said.
The two countries have been on edge regarding the issue of Chinese fishing vessels illegally entering Korea’s waters.
In 2014, a Chinese boat captain was shot dead by a South Korean coast guardsman in one of the most violent crashes between Chinese fishermen and the Korean Coast Guard. In 2011, a South Korean coast guard officer was killed in a clash with Chinese fishermen in Korean waters.
By Jo He-rim (firstname.lastname@example.org)