SEOUL Oct 11 South Korea summoned China's
ambassador on Tuesday to protest against what it says was a
deliberate collision by a Chinese fishing vessel with a South
Korean coast guard patrol boat that later capsized and sank.
Disputes over illegal fishing are an irritant in relations
between China and U.S. ally South Korea, even as their economic
relations grow close. They also share concern 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 operation to crack down on a group of Chinese
vessels fishing illegally off the Korean peninsula's west coast.
It said the patrol boat was rammed by one of the Chinese
No injuries were reported from the incident.
South Korean media reports have said the Chinese vessel fled
the scene and was believed to have returned to its home port.
Qiu Guohong, China's ambassador to South Korea, did not
comment to reporters as he arrived at the foreign ministry.
China's coast guard is also looking into the incident to
identify the fishing boat accused of crashing into the South
Korean coast guard vessel after requests by its South Korean
counterpart, the Ministry of Public Safety and Security said in
a statement on Monday.
South Korean coastguard vessels regularly chase Chinese
boats for fishing illegally off its coast, at times resulting in
violent confrontations at sea.
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.
In June, South Korea and the United Nations Command, which
oversees the Korean War armistice, launched a joint operation to
keep Chinese fishing vessels from operating illegally off South
Korea's west coast.
South Korea has repeated its complaint to China about
illegal fishing by Chinese trawlers and urged Beijing to help
come up with a permanent solution.
(Reporting by Ju-min Park; Editing by Paul Tait)