Asia’s Island Dispute Heats Up: China Protests After Chinese Fisherman Shot Dead by S. Korean Coast Guard

SEOUL, South Korea, Oct. 17 (Xinhua) — The Chinese embassy in Seoul conveyed protest and strong dissatisfaction to South Korea after a Chinese fisherman was shot dead by a South Korean Coast Guard officer during a raid Tuesday.

The Chinese embassy asked the South Korean side to investigate into the case seriously and thoroughly, and to protect the legal rights of Chinese fishermen. It also urged civilized law enforcement to make sure this kind of incident never happens again.

The Chinese fisherman was shot with a rubber bullet by a South Korean officer who was trying to arrest him during a raid, he died from injuries after transported to a nearby hospital, according to South Korean authorities.

Members of  South Korean Coast Guard participate in a drill at port Pohang, in 2006 (AFP/File, Chun Young-Han)

The disputed Senkaku islands in the East China Sea

The disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea. Photograph: AP

Above: Chinese fishermen are all over the East China Sea and South China Sea and have been frequently accused of violating the territorial waters of other nations….

Above: In the South China Sea China has built upon many shallow reefs and claimed they are now “occupied” and therefore “owned” by China. They have also put a military garrison on at least one island which has disputed ownership.


Oct. 17 (Bloomberg) — A Chinese fisherman died from injuries sustained in a South Korean coast guard raid after his vessel entered South Korean waters in the Yellow Sea, the Coast Guard said in a faxed statement.

South Korea’s foreign ministry notified the Chinese embassy in Seoul about the death and will investigate the incident, the ministry said in a text message to reporters. The ministry expressed regret over the “unfortunate” incident and sent its condolences to the dead fisherman’s family, it said.

Chinese fishing crews have clashed repeatedly in recent years with the coast guards and commercial vessels of nearby countries, including South Korea, Vietnam and Japan. Yesterday’s killing comes amid heightened tensions with Japan over islands claimed by both sides in an area of the East China Sea rich in fish, oil and gas.

The raid on two vessels occurred at 3:45 p.m. yesterday in southwestern waters, according to the coast guard statement.

Yonhap News reported that a coast guard officer shot and killed the man during a raid on 30 Chinese boats fishing illegally in the area. A separate Korean-language Yonhap report said the fisherman was killed when he was hit by a rubber bullet.

The Chinese embassy in Seoul conveyed “protest and strong dissatisfaction” to the South Korean government, and asked for the incident to be investigated “seriously and thoroughly,” China’s official Xinhua News Agency reported.

Officer Stabbed

Last year, a Chinese sailor stabbed and killed a South Korean Coast Guard officer during a raid on his ship. South Korea occasionally seizes Chinese ships. In 2010, two Chinese sailors were killed when their boat overturned and sank after ramming a South Korean Coast Guard vessel.

China’s territorial dispute with Japan sparked protests in several Chinese cities last month and strained a trade relationship worth more than $340 billion.

Speaking at a briefing in Bangkok yesterday, U.S. Pacific Commander Admiral Samuel Locklear said the U.S. seeks a “peaceful environment” in the East and South China seas. He said it’s important to “recognize these will be difficult issues.”

Rival maritime claims among half a dozen Asian nations have fueled tension this year ahead of China’s leadership transition. China is establishing a military garrison on a disputed island, while the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei are asserting their own claims.

Philippine President Benigno Aquino today said he sees “more room” to discuss territorial disputes with China after it completes its leadership change at a Communist Party congress that begins next month. The Southeast Asian nation wants to resolve the issue “amicably” and there are currently “no back channel efforts” with China, he said.

–With assistance from Daniel Ten Kate in Bangkok, Nicholas Wadhams in Beijing and Joel Guinto in Makati City. Editors: Nicholas Wadhams, Peter Hirschberg

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A demonstrator behind a China flag during a protest at the Japanese embassy in Budapest

A demonstrator behind a China flag during a protest at the Japanese embassy, Budapest. Photograph: Attila Kisbenedek/AFP/Getty Images

Above: China’s first aircraft carrier joined the fleet during the dispute with Japan

In the east China Sea, the dispute is about the SenkakuIslands (as japan calls them)or the Diaoyu Islands (in Chinese) — but an anticipated oil field with up to 50 years of oil is nearby. So this dispute is more about oil than fish?

Photo: This Japan-owned department store was looted by Chinese protesters in China in what seemed to be a state sponsored act of trouble against Japan businesses….

In a little old fashioned saber rattling, China sent warships on exercises in the East China Sea during the stand-off; and publicized the event widely

Above: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Chinese Foreign Minister exchange views on the South China Sea at a news conference in Beijing Sept. 5. Photo: AP/Feng Li, Pool

China says it basically owns the South China Sea.


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