South Korea FIRES 249 bullets at Chinese ships as WW3 tensions reach breaking point
A group of Chinese fishing boats were grouping around a patrol ship in South Korean waters, its coastguard said.
The act of aggression led to 249 warning shots being fired at the boats – prompting a call for restraint from Beijing.
South Korean coastguard vessels regularly chase Chinese boats suspected of fishing illegally in its waters.
This comes as Russian President Vladimir Putin mocked Britain for its lack of warships.
This can spark violent confrontations, complicating a relationship which is key to efforts to try to rein in North Korea's nuclear and missile programmes.
A fleet of 44 Chinese fishing boats fortified with iron bars and steel mesh yesterday began to rush the patrol boat, the coastguard said.
It then broadcast warnings to steer clear but these were not heeded.
The coastguard vessel fired 249 shots over the boats until they retreated.
"The Chinese fishing boats sought to swarm around and collide with our patrol ship, ignoring the broadcast warnings," it said in a statement.
China, which has in the past lodged diplomatic protests with South Korea over the use of force by its coastguard, expressed "serious concern" about the reports.
"We hope that South Korea appropriately handles the relevant issue and in the course of law enforcement takes no extreme actions that endanger people's safety," foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters in Beijing.
Seoul's foreign ministry said the coast guard followed domestic law in its use of weapons in a "legitimate step" against the boats.
It slammed them for a "mass violation of the country's waters for illegal fishing".
In September last year, three Chinese fishermen were killed in a fire on their boat.
A South Korean coastguard crew had tried to apprehend them for illegal fishing threw flash grenades into a room where they were hiding.
A month later, two Chinese fishing boats illegally fishing in South Korean waters crashed into and sank a coastguard vessel.
( Source )