Chinese trawler sinks in Argentine shooting

BEIJING • China has expressed concern over a trawler that was sunk by the Argentine coast guard and urged Argentina to take effective steps to prevent future incidents of this kind.

A Chinese trawler was shot at by the Argentine coast guard after being chased for several hours while fishing in waters near Argentina on Monday (Singapore time), leading to the sinking of the vessel, said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang. He added that the Foreign Ministry and Chinese embassy in Argentina have urgently lodged representations with the Argentine side, expressing grave concern over the incident.

The coast guard said the offending vessel was fishing without permission off Puerto Madryn, 1,300km south of Buenos Aires, inside Argentina's exclusive economic zone. The ship refused requests in Spanish and English to be boarded, turning off its lights and attempting to flee towards international waters, an Argentinian statement said on Tuesday.

"To protect our fishing resources, and given the (Chinese) boat's refusal to be boarded, warning shots were fired," it said. "The offending vessel carried out manoeuvres to collide with the coast guard patrol... Thus the order was given to fire on different sections of the vessel, damaging it."

The boat's captain was due to be handed over to police and would appear before a judge.

WHY ORDER GIVEN TO SHOOT

The offending vessel carried out manoeuvres to collide with the coast guard patrol... Thus the order was given to fire on different sections of the vessel, damaging it.

AN ARGENTINIAN STATEMENT, on the incident 1,300km south of Buenos Aires.

China's Foreign Ministry said on its website it had received information that the 32 Chinese sailors on board had been rescued unhurt, four by the coast guard and the others by nearby Chinese boats. Beijing "expressed serious concern about this incident, and called on Argentina to make an immediate and thorough investigation..." Mr Lu was cited as saying.

China is a key export market for Argentinian agriculture and raw materials. When President Xi Jinping visited in 2014, he said the two countries' relationship was poised to reach unprecedented "new horizons".

XINHUA, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 17, 2016, with the headline 'Chinese trawler sinks in Argentine shooting'. Print Edition | Subscribe