(TibetanReview.net, Oct15, 2016) – China has not only failed to apologise or to promise an inquiry to punish the guilty but also on Oct 12 suggested that Seoul stay “reasonable and cool-headed” after a 100-ton Chinese fishing boat rammed into a 4.5 ton South Korean coastguard speedboat that was trying to evict the Chinese fishermen from waters off the western coast of the Korean peninsula on Oct 7, reported foreignpolicy.com Oct 13. The Chinese remark came after Seoul warned Oct 11 that its coastguard vessels would be armed and ready to use to force against Chinese fishing boats that defy their orders.
The report noted that the spat between South Korea and China came after Beijing had riled up most of its maritime neighbors — and the United States — with its expansive claims and aggressive behavior. China has built artificial islands in the South China Sea, provoking US naval patrols meant to defend the right to free navigation, and sparking a tougher posture from Vietnam, Indonesia and others. In the East China Sea, the report continued, China and Japan were at loggerheads over Chinese natural gas platforms that Tokyo says are both encroaching on disputed territory and potential military sites.
The latest incident, which led to the sinking of the South Korean coastguard patrol boat, came as tension was running high between Beijing and Seoul over South Korea’s decision to deploy US-made missile defenses on its territory. Beijing calls it a threat despite Seoul’s insistence that the defensive weaponry is aimed at countering the rising threat posed by North Korea.
China has not issued any apology despite the fact that South Korea’s foreign minister had summoned high-ranking Chinese diplomats three times over the incident, according to english.yonhapnews.co.kr Oct 13.
“(The ministry) summoned China’s consul general in Seoul to deliver the government position,” foreign minister Yun Byung-se was quoted as saying during a parliamentary audit into the ministry at the National Assembly after the latest summon. “We demanded action to investigate, arrest and punish those responsible.”
The report said the ministry first summoned the consul general on Oct 9 and the Chinese Ambassador to South Korea Qiu Guohong two days later.
The report said that much to the irritation of neighboring states, China also subsidizes its fishermen. In the South China Sea, Beijing pays its fishermen to operate in far-flung waters as a “maritime militia” to back up its far-reaching territorial claims. However, in the Yellow Sea, there is no evidence that China is encouraging fishing boats to sail into Korean coastal waters, or that the fishermen are part of a wider strategic land grab, experts have been cited as saying.