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South Korea Warns It Will Shoot Chinese Boats Fishing 'Illegally' in Its Waters

© AP Photo / Renato Etac Chinese Coast Guard members approach Filipino fishermen as they confront them off Scarborough Shoal at South China Sea. file photo
Chinese Coast Guard members approach Filipino fishermen as they confront them off Scarborough Shoal at South China Sea. file photo - Sputnik International
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Although economic relations between South Korea and China are close, confrontation between the two countries is seen to be in danger of escalating, as Chinese boats continue to fish in Korean waters - illegally, according to Seoul.

China's ambassador was summoned by South Korea recently, which took issue with Beijing's actions after a recent clash between Chinese vessels and a Korean coast guard boat, that led to the sinking of the latter. The incident, in which a patrol boat was rammed by one of the Chinese vessels, resulted in no casualties. A South Korean deputy foreign minister told the Chinese ambassador that the incident was "a challenge to public power."

South Korea announced Tuesday that it would use firearms against Chinese boats. "We will actively respond to Chinese fishing boats that obstruct justice by using all possible means if needed such as directly hitting and gaining control of those Chinese fishing boats as well as firing common weapons," South Korea's deputy coastguard chief, Lee Choon-jae, told reporters.

Last month, three Chinese fishermen were killed in a fire on their boat after a South Korean coast guard crew threw flash grenades into their vessel, according to a South Korean official.

A US Navy crew member looks at an F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter landing onto the deck of the USS Ronald Reagan, a Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, during a joint naval drill between South Korea and the US in the West Sea off South Korea on October 28, 2015 - Sputnik International
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"We hope South Korea can start from the perspective of the broader situation in bilateral relations and calmly and rationally handle the relevant issue," spokesman Geng Shuang told a news briefing in Beijing.

South Korea depends upon US military assistance to defend its borders. The American government aggravates tensions in the region, however, by the continuous deployment of its military in the Asia-Pacific region.

The Chinese government has repeatedly expressed its disapproval of US military expansion in the region. Chinese Defense Minister Chang Wanguan said Tuesday at a summit in Beijing, "Some countries seek absolute military superiority, ceaselessly strengthen their military alliances, and seek their own absolute security at the costs of other countries' security."

Moscow is also worried about further destabilization in the region as a result of the US military presence. Russian Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov said at the Beijing summit, "We are concerned about the attempts of certain nations to exploit the complex situation in the Korean peninsula […] pumping this sub-region with clearly excessive defense capabilities."

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