China Blames S.Korea for Clash with Chinese Trawler

The Chinese Foreign Ministry is calling South Korea to account for the dead and missing crew of a Chinese fishing boat which rammed into a South Korean coast guard patrol boat while illegally fishing in the West Sea last Saturday.

In a press briefing on Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said, "South Korea should do its best to search for the missing crewman and severely punish those responsible." She added Seoul should also "compensate for damage done to the Chinese fishermen and take thorough measures to prevent recurrence of similar incidents."

The spokeswoman denied the Chinese were engaged in illegal fishing. "According to the South Korea-China fishery agreement, fishing boats of the two countries can enter these waters [where the incident happened]. The two countries can enforce law only on their own fishing boats."

But Seoul feels China should apologize because the accident took place within South Korea's exclusive economic zone. "First of all, the Chinese fishing boat did wrong by violating the EEZ," a senior government official said. "Furthermore, the Chinese fishermen also obviously did wrong by using violence toward the Coast Guard. We have evidence that the Chinese boat violated the EEZ."

According to the Coast Guard, the 63-ton Yaoyong rammed a 3,000-ton coast guard patrol boat which was trying to stop it in waters 72 miles northwest of Eocheong Island off Gunsan, North Jeolla Province, on Saturday afternoon. The trawler was among several Chinese fishing boats engaged in illegal fishing there.

One Chinese fisherman died, another went missing and eight others were rescued when their boat capsized. Four coast guards were injured during the crackdown when Chinese crew wielded iron pipes.

englishnews@chosun.com / Dec. 22, 2010 10:40 KST

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