by STEVE HAN
A South Korean cost guard shot and killed a Chinese fishing boat captain during a scuffle after the ship was stopped for suspected illegal fishing activities, according to reports.
The 80-ton boat, led by the Chinese captain, was spotted fishing only 90 miles west of the Wandeung island on the western coast of South Korea by a coast guard. When the guard tried to seize the Chinese boat by boarding it, four more Chinese fishing boats reportedly surrounded the South Korean ship, which prompted a violent clash.
During the scuffle, a South Korean officer started firing warning shots, and one of the bullets hit the 45-year-old Chinese captain in the stomach. He was transported by a helicopter to a hospital in Mokpo, a city in the southwestern tip of South Korea, but was soon pronounced dead.
The Chinese fishermen were using homemade weapons to resist South Korean officers who boarded their ship, according to South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency. The Chinese fishermen reportedly took the helmet off of one officer and tried to strangle him.
Violent clashes between Chinese fishermen and South Korean coast guards have been common over the years. A Chinese fisherman stabbed a South Korean officer to death in 2011, and in the following year, a Chinese fisherman was killed by a rubber bullet fired by a South Korean officer.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei said China is “deeply shocked and dissatisfied with the violent actions that resulted in the death” of the captain. He added that South Korea should have dealt with the situation in a “serious and sincere and proper” way.
The bilateral relations between South Korea and China have improved since President Park Geun-hye took office last year. Although China’s support of North Korea still leaves its ties with South Korea contentious, it is already South Korea’s No. 1 trading partner. In July, both Park and China’s President Xi Jinping urged citizens of their countries to join forces in their historical disputes against Japan.
However, there are still ongoing political conflicts between the two countries. China still remains reluctant to protect North Korean refugees who flee to its country with the hopes of going to South Korea. The recent agreement between South Korea and the U.S. to deploy American army’s missile system in South Korea also strained the relations between the two East Asian countries as China considers America’s missile program a threat to its security.