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Beijing expects crews' safety to be guaranteed

12-29-2011 11:38 BJT

BEIJING - China expects the Republic of Korea (ROK) to guarantee Chinese safety and legitimate interests when enforcing its fisheries law, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said on Wednesday.

China has done a great deal to enhance the regulation and education of its fishermen, and will continue to do so, Hong said at a daily news conference, adding that the Chinese government has consistently required fishermen to fish legally in domestic waters, and according to domestic rules.

The remarks came in response to reports that the ROK is updating its measures against illegal fishing in the wake of a conflict between two ROK coast guards and the crew of a Chinese fishing boat in the Yellow Sea on Dec 12, which led to the death of one ROK coast guard.

Vice-Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun discussed the incident with his ROK counterpart Park Suk-hwan during his visit to Seoul on Tuesday.

Both Beijing and Seoul are trying to keep bilateral ties on track and steer clear of the impact of recent fishery disputes, said Zhang.

The two also discussed the issue of setting up a high-level committee to negotiate various matters.

The ROK prime minister's office on Monday announced a series of measures to reinforce its crackdown on illegal fishing, and to revise guidelines to make it easier for coast guard officers to use firearms, Yonhap News Agency reported.

According to the report, the ROK government was planning to spend 932.4 billion won ($811 million) between 2012 and 2015 to better equip its forces as part of a crackdown on poaching, with 1.08 billion won to be spent next year.

"We will dispatch nine more 1,000-ton vessels and 192 officers on the country's south and west coasts on a gradual basis," Yonhap quoted Yim Jong-ryong, minister of the Prime Minister's Office, as saying.

The ROK government will replace the 18 high-speed ships patrolling the Yellow Sea with faster vessels and increase the number of larger ships from 18 to 27.

The measures also allow coast guards to use firearms during law enforcement.

"We've already armed all the officers in charge of cracking down on illegal fishing with guns in the wake of the tragedy in the Yellow Sea," Yim said.

Previously, two out of every eight ROK coast guards on board each speedboat were armed.

Guidelines would be simplified so that officers could use firearms whenever their lives are threatened, Yim also said.

The measures also double the maximum bail for captured ships to 200 million won, would see the confiscation of illegal catches and fishing gear or the levying of a corresponding fine, Yonhap reported.

"The reason why such conflicts occurred between Chinese fishermen and ROK coast guards is that there is something wrong with Chinese maritime fishery resources," said Liu Jiangyong, an expert on Japan studies at Tsinghua University.

Major oil leaks in June had polluted more than 6,200 sq km of waters and fishery resources in the waters near Shandong province.

The high level of fines could be another reason why there was always violence in such confrontations, Liu said.

"China and the ROK should seriously work together on this issue. We have had good maritime cooperation for the past 10 years, and it's necessary to know why things started to change. And we do need to enhance the education of our fishermen to protect their interests and rights, " Liu added.

China and the ROK signed a fisheries agreement in 1998, which took effect in 2001.

AFP contributed to this story.


Editor:Wang Xi |Source: People's Daily

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