China lodges protest after South Korea coast guard shoots dead Chinese fisherman

BEIJING - A senior Chinese diplomat has held an "emergency meeting" with South Korea's ambassador to China and lodged a protest after the captain of a Chinese fishing boat was shot dead during a violent clash with the South Korean Coast Guard.

The incident on Friday happened during the South Korea Coast Guard's crackdown on illegal fishing, reported Yonhap news agency.

Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Liu Jianchao met with the South Korean ambassador to China, Kwon Young Se, on Friday night, said the report.

He made "solemn representations" over the incident, which happened 144 km off South Korea's western coast, the Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement.

AFP quoted a South Korean coastguard spokesman as saying shots were fired as the Chinese vessel was boarded for illegally fishing in South Korean territorial waters off the western island of Wangdeung.

"Dozens of Chinese sailors attacked our officers with knives and beer bottles," said Choi Chang Sam, chief of the Mokpo Coastguard Station.

"It was a dangerous situation. One officer fired a warning shot but they did not stop. So he fired several more rounds," Choi said, adding that five coastguard officers needed treatment for injuries.

The Chinese captain was taken to a hospital in Mokpo on the mainland where he was declared dead on arrival, according to AFP.

The Chinese foreign ministry reacted angrily to the incident and urged immediate action. "We are deeply shocked and strongly dissatisfied with this violent law enforcement activity," ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters.

"We urge (South Korea) to immediately investigate this case, bring those accountable to justice, and inform China of the result of the investigation in a timely fashion," Hong said.

The South Korean foreign ministry sent its condolences to the dead man's relatives and promised it would take all necessary "follow-up measures."

Illegal fishing by Chinese boats is common in South Korean waters, and scores of vessels are seized every year.

In an incident two years ago, a 44-year-old Chinese fisherman was fatally wounded by a rubber bullet after South Korean coastguards boarded his ship for illegal fishing. In 2011, a coastguard officer was stabbed to death in a struggle with Chinese sailors.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.