China on Tuesday expressed concerns over Korea's decision to toughen measures against illegal fishing by Chinese trawlers in Korean waters, which includes relaxed rules for the use of firearms. In a meeting between Chinese and Korean officials at the Foreign Ministry in Seoul, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun was quoted as saying overuse of firearms could "become a problem."
The government on Monday said it will beef up patrols in coastal waters to crack down on armadas of illegal Chinese fishing boats whose incursions are becoming increasingly brazen and resulted in the murder of a Coast Guard commando earlier this month.
The Prime Minister's Office said Tuesday firearms would be handed out to all crew of Coast Guard speedboats, and the guidelines would be relaxed so they can shoot when they feel in danger or unable to carry out their duties properly otherwise.
But Vice Foreign Minister Park Suk-hwan told Zhang firearms would still be used "prudently" and there should be no problems.
Park asked China to come up with effective ways of preventing illegal fishing. Zhang was quoted as saying Beijing "has expressed regrets over the death of the coast guard several times. The relevant government bodies held special meetings, and advised the relevant bodies to make sure that fishermen do their job within legal bounds."
Korea has been urging the establishment of a bilateral body to deal with the problem, but Zhang said Beijing is still reviewing the suggestion.