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Asia's Game of Thrones
South Korean Coast Guard Kills Chinese Fisherman

A Chinese fisherman was killed by South Korea’s coast guard during a violent clash in South Korean waters last Friday, October 10. China has lodged an official complaint, but neither nation has taken steps to escalate the situation at present. Reuters reports:

Coastguard officers fired eight bullets when they raided the boat in the Yellow Sea. While the coastguard said no bullet wound or bleeding was found on the crew member, a hospital official said he appeared to have been killed by a bullet to his right lung. . . .

The killing will irritate relations between the two countries but is unlikely to derail efforts to forge a stronger economic partnership. China is South Korea’s biggest trading partner.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said the government was “shocked” and “extremely dissatisfied” at what had happened and had lodged a formal protest.

“We demand that South Korea immediately carry out an earnest and thorough investigation and severely punish the person responsible, and report to China in a timely manner the result of the probe,” Hong told a daily news briefing.

South Korea’s foreign ministry notified China and offered condolences to the fisherman’s family, a ministry official said.

While much of the world’s focus is turned to ISIS and the clashes in the Middle East, violence and tension remain the norm in the waters off Asia’s coastlines. Any one of these kinds of flare ups carries some chance, albeit usually a small one, of snowballing into a bigger conflict. Clashes in disputed waters are common, and they don’t always occur between nations, like China and South Korea, that are currently enjoying a period of growing trade and comparatively warm relations. China’s establishment of an oil rig in disputed waters, to take just one example, recently kicked off a round of deadly riots in Vietnam.

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