China seeks South Korean safety guarantees after warning shots fired at ship

Reuters News
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Posted: Dec 09, 2015 3:54 AM

BEIJING (Reuters) - China said on Wednesday it had asked South Korea to ensure the safety of Chinese ships after South Korea's navy fired warning shots at a Chinese vessel which crossed into waters disputed by North and South Korea.

The South Korean navy told Yonhap news agency it had fired 10 warning shots at a Chinese boat which it said crossed the Northern Limit Line - a disputed inter-Korean maritime border on the west coast.

The ship was initially thought to be North Korean, but was later identified as Chinese, according to Yonhap.

"We are concerned about the relevant situation," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a daily news briefing.

The Chinese embassy in South Korea has asked for a clarification of what happened, she said, adding that it had not heard of any damage or injuries.

"We will continue to pay close attention to how the situation develops and keep in communication with South Korea, asking they ensure the safety of Chinese personnel and ships," Hua said, without giving other details.

The Northern Limit Ling is a disputed border where several artillery and naval clashes have occurred in recent years.

Last year, a Chinese fisherman was killed in a South Korean coastguard operation to apprehend his vessel which was operating illegally off South Korea's west coast.

South Korea's coastguard regularly chases Chinese fishing boats out of its western seas and violence does sometimes occur.

A South Korean coastguard officer was stabbed to death by a Chinese fisherman in 2011 and the following year a Chinese fisherman died from injuries in a confrontation with the coastguard. That led to a Chinese government complaint.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Nick Macfie)