Coast guard officer death 'isolated case'

Updated: 2011-12-15 08:12

By Qin Zhongwei (China Daily)

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Coast guard officer death 'isolated case'

Republic of Korea police officers on Wednesday observe a moment of silence during a funeral ceremony in Incheon for Coast Guard officer Lee Cheong-ho who was allegedly stabbed by a Chinese fishing boat captain on Monday in the Yellow Sea. Ahn Young-joon / Associated Press 

BEIJING - China believes the death of a Republic of Korea (ROK) Coast Guard officer in a clash with Chinese fishermen was an isolated incident and will not affect bilateral ties, the Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday.

At the ministry's daily news briefing, spokesman Liu Weimin once again expressed China's regret over the death of ROK Coast Guard officer Lee Cheong-ho, whose funeral was held on Wednesday.

Liu said: "This is an isolated case, and we believe it will not hurt the overall situation of the two countries' relationship."

Liu also said that the Chinese government had beefed up security outside the ROK embassy in Beijing and its consulates in other cities, after the ROK embassy in Beijing informed the ministry that a bulletproof window at the embassy was suspected of being hit by a metal ball allegedly fired from an air gun on Tuesday. Nobody was injured.

After preliminary checks at the embassy, the possibility of gunfire could be ruled out, said Liu. An investigation into the incident is continuing.

The councilor of the ROK embassy in Beijing was unavailable for comment on Wednesday.

Liu asked the ROK government to take measures to protect the safety and guarantee the smooth operation of the Chinese embassy and consulates in ROK cities.

Lee, 41, was allegedly stabbed to death by a Chinese fishing boat captain during a clash over "illegal fishing" in the Yellow Sea.

But the 42-year-old Chinese captain denied the accusations, according to coast guard officials.

The Chinese embassy in the ROK sent staff to see the Chinese crewmembers now in custody, and China would like to actively cooperate with the ROK and take steps to resolve the issue, according to Liu.

Anyone who wants to play up the dispute should think again, said Lu Chao, a researcher on Korean Peninsula studies at Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences, who added that more details are needed, such as whether the Chinese crew was fishing in transitional waters or in the ROK's exclusive economic zone.

"Nobody wants to see conflicts or loss of life. People should cool down," Lu said.

Shen Mingchun and Liu Ce contributed to this story.