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China should fulfill the promise over friendly fishing

Posted October. 09, 2013 07:03,   


China’s illegal fishing has resumed again. When Korean Coastal Guard caught two illegal Chinese fishing boats off a small island of Gageo, Jeolla Province on Monday, the crews threw knives, stones, and glass bottles to injure four coastal guards. A 26-centimeter long knife stuck in a coast guard’s thigh shows how hard they resisted. Coastal Guard says that the fishing boats were armed with iron bars like armored battleships.

Korean costal guards died in 2008 and 2011 after Chinese crews hit them with a deadly weapon. Sometimes, Chinese crews were killed. Beijing complains that our crackdown is “violent enforcement” but the main cause is Chinese fishers who resist with violence while fishing illegally. According to the Korea-China fisheries agreement, both countries allow fishing of 1,600 boats or 60,000 tons per year within the exclusive economic zone or the EEZ. However, there are more than 200,000 illegal Chinese fishing boats on the sea. They could sweep all juvenile fishes, if we do not take an action.

President Park Geun-hye and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to make the West Sea as a “friendly sea of peace and cooperation” in a Korea-China summit in Beijing in June. Chinese illegal fishing boats keep doing illegal fishing, however. Chinese fishers know it is illegal, but they keep on fishing in Korean territories because Chinese territories are contaminated and the fish catch is decreasing.

President Xi and Chinese leadership should fulfill the promise between the two heads of states with a strong will. They would be only lip service if they repeatedly say the “friendly sea of peace and cooperation” without cracking illegal fishing boats. It is not appropriate for a G2 nation to do nothing about its people’s illegal activities against the international law.

Seoul should go beyond expressing regrets through diplomatic channels. It should come up with short and long term measures to address the problem by strengthening the Korea-China fisheries cooperation meeting, which both countries agreed to have twice a year. It would be effective to invite Chinese officials in charge of fisheries to inform the seriousness and have Chinese judiciary officials get on board our coast guard boat. Coast Guard should strictly enforce laws so that Chinese fishers can feel the dear price of illegal fishing. It should not show a weak response against Chinese fishers in “armored battleships” who wield deadly weapons against our coast guards and put their lives at risk.