A Chinese fishing boat captain stabbed two South Korean coast guard officers yesterday, killing one and injuring the other, after his boat was stopped for illegally fishing in South Korean waters, officials said.
The Chinese captain wielded an unidentified weapon after officers from two coast guard ships boarded the fishing boat over -suspicions that it was illegally operating in Yellow Sea waters rich in blue crabs, anchovies and croaker, South Korean Coast Guard spokesman Kim Dong-jin said.
A South Korean officer stabbed in the side was taken by helicopter to a hospital in the port city of Incheon, but later died, Kim said. Also brought to the hospital were an officer stabbed in the abdomen, who was to undergo surgery, and the Chinese captain, who had minor injuries from the fight, he said.
South Korea’s Foreign Ministry summoned China’s ambassador to Seoul later in the day and lodged a strong protest over the fight. Foreign Ministry officials said they had asked the ambassador on Thursday to make efforts to prevent illegal Chinese fishing from undermining bilateral ties.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin (劉為民) said the ministry was ready to work with South Korea on the case. He told a daily news conference that Chinese authorities had taken steps to better educate fishermen “to prohibit cross-border fishing and irregularities.”
Liu called on Seoul to “fully protect the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese fishermen and provide them with due humanitarian treatment.”
Last week, South Korean authorities raised fines levied on foreign fishing vessels caught operating in Seoul’s self-declared exclusive economic zone, an apparent reflection of the government’s impatience with a rising number of Chinese boats found fishing in the waters.
“Eradicating Chinese boats’ illegal fishing in our waters is a most urgent task to safeguard our fishermen and fisheries resources,” South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said in a recent editorial. “The government should mobilize every possible means and continue the crackdown on illegal fishing.”
Yesterday’s fighting is not likely to undermine overall ties, although Seoul is expected to pressure Beijing harder over illegal fishing activities, said Lee Chang-hyung of Seoul’s government-affiliated Korea Institute for Defense Analyses.
Besides the captain, eight other Chinese fishermen on the boat were arrested and taken to Incheon, the coast guard said in a statement.
The coast guard said it had seized about 470 Chinese ships for illegal fishing in the Yellow Sea so far this year, up from 370 last year. The coast guard usually releases the ships after a fine is paid, though violence occasionally occurs.