This photo released by South Korean Defence Ministry shows South Korean soldiers on a patrol boat conducting an operation to drive out Chinese fishing boats from neutral waters close to the disputed sea border with North Korea on June 10, 2016. (Photo by AFP)
Seoul says it has lodged a formal complaint with Beijing over the alleged sinking of a South Korean coast guard vessel by Chinese fishermen.
The incident reportedly took place on Friday when the South Korean coast guard said its forces were trying to stop Chinese boats from allegedly fishing off South Korea’s coast.
The guard said one of its 4.5-ton speed boats was sunk when a 100-ton Chinese boat intentionally rammed it.
No causalities or injuries were reported, according to South Korea’s coast guard.
“The incident is regrettable,” South Korean presidential spokesman Jung Youn-kuk told reporters during a regular briefing on Monday.
On Sunday, the South’s Foreign Ministry and its Coast Guard separately summoned senior Chinese diplomats based in Seoul to lodge formal protests over the incident and urge Beijing to prevent recurrences.
This photo released by South Korean Defense Ministry on June 10, 2016 shows South Korean patrol boats forcing Chinese fishing boats from disputed waters.(Photo by AFP)
The Chinese side expressed regret over the incident, according to the ministry.
An official in Beijing said Chinese authorities were still looking into the incident and called on South Korea to exercise restraint over the incident.
“We hope the South Korean side can bear in mind the large picture of the bilateral relationship and regional peace, and handle the case reasonably with a level head,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said in a regular briefing.
Numerous incidents have occurred in recent years between South Korea’s coast guard and Chinese fishing boats venturing across international waters in search of fish.
Recently, three Chinese fishermen died after their fishing boat was set on fire by South Korean coast guards who threw grenades into their vessel.