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Korea, China call for calm over fisherman’s death

Publication Date : 20-10-2012

 

South Korea and China agreed yesterday to work together to prevent the recent death of a Chinese fisherman during a Korean Coast Guard raid from damaging diplomatic ties.

Chinese Ambassador Zhang Xinsen visited Korea’s Vice Foreign Minister Ahn Ho-young to discuss the incident that occurred in the West Sea Tuesday.

Xinsen expressed hopes for “appropriate handling and humanitarian treatment” of the death and detained fishermen, a ministry official said.

“The ambassador said he wishes for reinforced cooperation between the two countries in maintaining the order of fishing, and preventing public opinion from deteriorating on both sides,” the official told reporters on condition of anonymity.

The 44-year-old fisherman, identified by his surname Zhang, died in a hospital after he was hit by a rubber bullet in the chest during the clash. Korean officers fired five shots toward the fishers who were resisting with deadly weapons.

About 30 Chinese vessels were illegally fishing at the time in Korea’s exclusive economic zone off Mokpo, South Jeolla Province.

An investigation is under way to determine the exact cause of his death. The Coast Guard sought arrest warrants for 12 sailors including two captains and those who wielded deadly weapons during the raid.

In a five-minute video clip shown to journalists, the fishermen were resisting with handsaws, shovels, steel pipes, pitchforks and other sharp tools.

Earlier in the day, Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan expressed regret over the death and stressed the need for a “fair, accurate assessment” of the situation.

“We will first have to understand that there was illegal fishing and (the fishermen’s) severe resistance during the crackdown, and then look into the problem,” he said during a media briefing.

“It’s a regrettable incident that occurred while the two countries are making efforts to curb illegal fishing.”

Illegal fishing has been a thorn in the two countries’ relations as more Chinese vessels encroach upon Korean waters.

A Chinese consul general based in the southwestern city of Gwangju has met with the arrested crewmen, the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson Hong Lei said Thursday.

 

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