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Political parties urge China to respect int'l law on illegal fishing

All Headlines 15:12 October 13, 2016

SEOUL, Oct. 13 (Yonhap) -- South Korean parties criticized China on Thursday for being reluctant to express an apology for the sinking of a Coast Guard speedboat by one of its fishing vessels, adding Beijing should take serious steps to curb illegal activities by its fishermen.

Last week, a Chinese fishing vessel that was illegally operating in the South Korean exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the Yellow Sea slammed into a 4.5-ton speedboat belonging to the Coast Guard while it was carrying out a crackdown operation. No one was hurt, but the boat sank causing indignation in South Korea.

Instead of expressing an apology, China's foreign ministry said South Korea should not take any actions that could harm the safety of Chinese citizens. This further escalated tension between Seoul and Beijing on the long-drawn issue of Chinese boats operating illegally in South Korean waters.

"The issue must be settled for the future of Seoul-Beijing ties," Rep. Won Yoo-chul of the ruling Saenuri Party said.

"China must respect the international law. It must take firm actions against Chinese boats that enter the South Korean EEZ without permission," party spokesman Kim Sung-won said.

Rep. Woo Sang-ho, the floor leader of the main opposition Minjoo Party of Korea (MPK) echoed the view, pointing out that the Chinese government's attitude could harm the two countries' relationship.

Rep. Choo Mi-ae, the head of the MPK, however, said South Korea should reconsider its plan to use firearms to tackle illegal fishing operations, adding the Coast Guard should seek more peaceful measures.

Amid the escalating tension between Seoul and Beijing surrounding the issue, a latest poll showed more South Koreans are more supportive of using firearms against such boats, even if it may lead to diplomatic tension.

According to the survey conducted by Real Meter on Wednesday, 61.3 percent of South Koreans supported the use of firearms against law-breaking Chinese boats, while 33.7 percent said Seoul should seek a diplomatic solution.

colin@yna.co.kr
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