12/14/2011, 00.00
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Sino-South Korean tensions rise in Yellow Sea, as Japan considers action

Coast guard killed by Chinese fishermen involved in illegal fishing in Yellow Sea is laid to rest today. In South Korea, public opinion and political leaders call for tougher actions against Chinese encroachment. Japan might build a permanent base in the East China Sea. China’s policies undermine peace in the area.
Seoul (AsiaNews) – The funeral of a South Korean coast guard, killed as he tried to arrest Chinese fishermen found in South Korean territorial waters, has rekindled the dispute about sovereignty in the Yellow Sea. A group of South Korean lawmakers now demand tougher action against illegal Chinese fishing.

The latest incident occurred on Monday when a South Korean coast guard officer was fatally stabbed and a colleague wounded as they attempted to detain the skipper of a Chinese boat in the rich fishing grounds of the Yellow Sea.

The incident is the second of its kind since 2008 when another coastguard officer was killed in a Chinese attack. In South Korea, this has sparked widespread anger. In Incheon, thousands of people attended the victim’s funeral.

“The Chinese government should offer a responsible apology and vow to prevent a recurrence so that a sacrifice like this... would never be made again,” said lawmaker Chung Ok-Nim lead who leads the demand for tougher action.

In the past five, two coastguard officers have been killed and 28 injured during raids on Chinese fishing boats.

For his part, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak is pondering whether to cancel a state visit to China in January. In the meantime, “We will come up with fundamental measures so that a tragedy like this will never take place again”.

The Chinese government said it was sorry about the incident, and proposed a joint investigation with South Korean authorities, but did not mention any compensation for the victim’s family.

In recent years, Beijing has been pursuing a more aggressive policy in disputed waters and this is raising tensions in the area. In its latest move, Beijing has sent the 3,000-tonne Haijian 50 Navy ship to the East China Sea to assert Chinese claims in the area, both sea and islands.

However, Taiwan and Japan have also similar claims. Nobuteru Ishihara, seen as a future prime minister if his Liberal Democratic Party returns to power, said Japan should look more broadly at stepping up defence spending in the face of a rising China.

Japan, he said, should also build a permanent post for its Self-Defence Force in the area to prevent Chinese aggressions.

The area in dispute includes the Diaoyu Islands, Senkaku Islands for the Japanese, which are uninhabited by rich in natural resources.
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