A group of 24 Chinese fishermen who allegedly engaged in illegal fishing in South Korean waters and resisted a South Korean Coast Guard inspection appeared in court on Monday.

The clash occurred in waters near the South Korean port city of Incheon on November 27, when Chinese fishermen aboard three fishing vessels fought South Korean maritime police officers, wielding steel pipes and hurling fishing equipment at them, according to the Yonhap News Agency, citing Incheon Coast Guard officials.

Four South Korean coast guards were injured in the confrontation.

He Ying, Consul-General at the Chinese embassy in Seoul, confirmed the arrest of the fishermen and said they had engaged in illegal fishing in South Korean waters.

“The South Korean police had the right to investigate the issue,” He said.

But He added that all 24 Chinese fishermen were being held in safe conditions, and the Chinese embassy had been in contact with the South Korean side and demanded a fair investigation and humane treatment.

China and South Korea have been involved in several clashes related to illegal fishing recently.

Zhang Shuwen, a Chinese fisherman, died two months ago when a rubber bullet fired by the South Korean Coast Guard officers hit him in the heart.

A South Korean Coast Guard officer was stabbed to death by the captain of a Chinese fishing boat in December last year, sparking anti-China protests in South Korea.

In 2000, China and South Korea signed a common fishery agreement, which marked common fishing areas and required that each country’s boats had to obtain a permit to fish in the other’s waters.

While South Korean officers accuse Chinese fishermen of becoming increasingly violent in resisting law enforcement efforts, Chinese seaman complain that the South Korean maritime police are often the first to use force.

“Nowadays, the Chinese fishing boats have become inclined to sail in groups and to assemble spears to defend themselves in case of being attacked by the South Korean Coast Guard,” a source in Seoul told the Global Times.

However, after the 24 Chinese fishermen were arrested, the South Korean Coast Guard vowed tougher punishments against Chinese fishermen who used violence to resist inspection.

2012 by The Global Times