BEIJING Oct 12 China said on Wednesday 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
The disputes are an irritant in relations between China and
U.S. ally South Korea, even as their economic relations grow
close and they share concerns about North Korea's nuclear
weapons and missile programmes.
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
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.
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Additional reporting by Ju-min
Park in Seoul; Editing by Nick Macfie)