South Korea fires warning shots at Chinese ship in Korean waters

A Republic of Korea Marine looks through a Machinegun Day Optic (MDO) for the M240B, on the flight deck of the Seong-In-Bong (LST 685), at sea, March 28, 2015. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Brian Bekkala/Released)

South Korea has fired warning shots at a Chinese patrol boat, after initially thinking it was a North Korean vessel.

The shots were fired after the ship entered South Korean waters, according to the country’s defence chiefs.

A statement from the Joint Chiefs of Staff said the ship “retreated as the warning shots were being fired”.

The vessel was assumed to be North Korean, as that country’s naval boats often test the Yellow Sea boundary, which Pyongyang doesn’t recognise.

The boundary was drawn by US-led forces at the end of the Korean War in 1953 and has been the scene of deadly clashes between the North and South naval forces in 1999, 2002 and 2009.

But the ship turned out to be a Chinese patrol boat looking for illegal Chinese fishing vessels, according to a South Korean Defence Ministry official.

Chinese fishing crews are increasingly entering South Korean waters seeking seafood, for which there is growing demand in China.

Years ago they would have been small, wooden boats and South Korea would largely turn a blind eye, more interested in spotting any incursions from North Korean vessels.

But now the fishing boats are large steel trawlers that drop a massive net to the sea floor, sweeping everything up – prompting Seoul to plead with Beijing authorities to take a tougher stance.

Over the past four years, more than 2,200 Chinese vessels have been fined by South Korea for illegal fishing and the number of fishermen arrested has increased from two in 2010 to 66 in 2013.

(c) Sky News 2015


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