China expressed grave concern on Wednesday over the Republic of Korea Coast Guard"s warning shots fired toward Chinese fishing boats, a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said.
China called on the ROK to protect the legal interests of Chinese fishermen and not engage in dangerous measures in their law enforcement process that could harm the crew members, Hua Chunying said in a news conference.
She was asked to respond to a news report from the Yonhap News Agency. The ROK Coast Guard fired just under 200 rounds and chased off dozens of Chinese fishing boats it claimed were in an ROK exclusive economic zone earlier this week, the report said.
China takes fishery management very seriously and has taken measures to maintain order, she said, while calling on the ROK to properly handle the issue.
She called on the ROK to enhance communication with China and jointly maintain fishery production order.
The incident happened on Tuesday, when 44 Chinese fishing boats entered waters off the southwest island of Gageo. The Chinese boats left the area around 2:43 am, some five hours after the first warning shots were fired, Yonhap reported.
It was unclear to what extent, if any, the Chinese boats were damaged. None of the ROK Coast Guard vessels were damaged, according to the report.
Huang Youfu, a researcher of Korean history and culture at Minzu University of China, said, "It is a pity that the incident happened when China-ROK relations are improving".
Fishery cooperation is an important part of bilateral relations. Both sides should peacefully handle their differences and disputes through negotiation to avoid affecting the overall China-ROK relations, he said.
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