China regrets ROK coast guard's death

Updated: 2011-12-14 07:48

By Zhang Yunbi and Liu Ce (China Daily)

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BEIJING - China regrets the death of a Republic of Korea (ROK) Coast Guard officer during a clash with crewmembers of a Chinese fishing boat in the Yellow Sea, the Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday.

Two ROK Coast Guard officers clashed on Monday with Chinese fishermen. One person was also injured in the incident.

"It is an unfortunate incident," ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said at a daily news conference, adding that China regrets the loss of life.

Related authorities from both countries are updating each other and trying to verify the details of the incident as quickly as possible, said the spokesman.

Liu said Beijing is willing to coordinate with Seoul to achieve an appropriate solution.

The ROK's Yonhap News Agency said on Tuesday that the country's Coast Guard accused the Chinese captain of stabbing the 41-year-old officer to death when his boat was caught "illegally fishing" in the Yellow Sea, and it would seek an arrest warrant for the captain.

However, the 42-year-old captain of Chinese fishing boat Luwenyu 15001 denied the accusations during questioning, the Coast Guard officials said.

The Coast Guard also accused the Chinese captain of violating the ROK's exclusive economic zone.

More details are needed to get a clearer picture of the incident, experts said.

Lu Chao, a researcher on Korean Peninsula studies at Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences, told China Daily on Tuesday that whether the crewmembers were fishing in transitional waters or in the ROK's exclusive economic zone makes a huge difference in defining responsibilities.

Amid media and public anger in the ROK toward the incident, more than 100 people were reported to have protested outside the Chinese embassy in Seoul, including a driver who rammed his car repeatedly into a police bus, according to AFP.

The ROK media's playing up of fishery disputes between the two countries may give rise to more ill feeling between people in the two countries, said Lu.

Meanwhile, ROK President Lee Myung-bak called for measures to add funding and manpower to its Coast Guard to "avert such tragedy" when addressing a cabinet meeting earlier in the day.

The ROK's Chosun Ilbo newspaper quoted on Tuesday an unidentified senior Seoul official as saying that Lee's planned visit to China next January may be postponed as a result of the incident.

The official's statement may give the dispute a diplomatic dimension, and this would only complicate the situation, said Lu.

Shen Mingchun contributed to this story.