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Beijing has issued a stern response to reports South Korean coastguard vessels have, for the first time, fired machine guns against Chinese boats illegally fishing in Korean waters. There were no casualties reported from the incident on Tuesday, which was the first of its kind since the coastguard announced last month that it would pursue a “more aggressive” firearms policy with Chinese trawlers.
Disputes over illegal fishing have dogged relations between South Korea and China for years, and there have been numerous clashes between the coastguard and Chinese crew members.
Senior coastguard official Kim Jung-shik said the order to fire came during a stand-off with some 30 Chinese fishing boats illegally operating near the South’s Yellow Sea border with North Korea.
“They tried to ram our ships although we repeatedly warned them,” Kim told the Yonhap news agency.
“I thought our officers would be in danger if I allowed any more resistance so we ended up using the crew service weapon,” he was quoted as saying.