South Korean officials have reported a confrontation between their national coast guard and a flotilla of “reinforced” Chinese fishing vessels believed to be poaching fish from South Korea’s exclusive economic zone. The incident only ended after the South Korean boats fired 249 rounds of automatic and small arms fire in the vicinity of the Chinese boats.
A fleet of more than forty Chinese fishing ships crossed into South Korean waters near the nation’s southwest coast, where they were initially intercepted and ordered to leave. These sorts of interactions are not uncommon; the South Korean Coast Guard regularly has to run Chinese poachers out of their waters. These particular Chinese fishing boats were prepared for a confrontation with South Korean authorities however; as they had been fortified with iron bars and steel mesh.
The flotilla of Chinese fishing ships rushed and surrounded a South Korean patrol boat issuing orders over the radio to steer clear of the South Korean ships and vacate the area. When it became apparent that the Chinese ships intended to ram the smaller patrol boat, the Coast Guard began firing what they characterized as “warning shots” across the bows of the Chinese vessels. In all, some 180 rounds from an M-60 machine gun and nearly 70 more from assault rifles and even shotguns were fired at the Chinese boats before they began to disburse.
“The Chinese fishing boats sought to swarm around and collide with our patrol ship, ignoring the broadcast warnings,” South Korea claimed in an officials statement.