Argentina sinks Chinese fishing vessel after chase on high seas

Argentine officials say the Chinese trawler was fishing illegally in Argentinian waters.

Argentine Naval Prefecture/Reuters
An aerial view of a Chinese flagged fishing vessel, the China Yan Lu Yuan Yu 010, off Argentina's Atlantic coast in this still image taken from video, Monday.

Tension has risen between Argentina and China this week after the Argentinian coast guard sank a Chinese trawler fishing illegally in the Latin American country's waters.

The coast guard warned operators on board the Lu Yan Yuan Yu 010 trawler before firing warning shots and engaging in a high seas chase into international waters. The altercation took place off the coast of Puerto Madryn, about 907 miles south of Buenos Aires.

The fishing vessel sank some time between Monday and Tuesday.

"On several occasions, the offending ship performed maneuvers designed to force a collision with the coast guard, putting at risk not only its own crew but coast guard personnel, who were then ordered to shoot parts of the vessel," the Argentine coast guard said in a statement.

The coast guard rescued – and subsequently arrested – four crewmen and while others were picked up by another Chinese boat in the vicinity.

China's Foreign Ministry is demanding an investigation.

"The Foreign Ministry and Chinese embassy in Argentina have already lodged emergency representations with the Argentinian side and expressed serious concern about the incident, demanding Argentina launch an immediate probe and report on the details to China," the agency said in a statement.

The statement also said that the boat in question had been chased for several hours before the Argentine Navy fired holes in the vessel. It did not acknowledge, however, whether the boat had been fishing illegally.

China is also asking Argentina to consider the safety and rights of the Chinese fishermen. A spokesman for Argentina's foreign ministry said the judiciary was now looking into the incident.

China has recently built a considerable presence in South America, and Argentine President Mauricio Macri would like to avoid a messy row with the global economic powerhouse.

Mr. Macri has yet to ameliorate the stiff relations between Argentina and China developed under former leftist leader Cristina Fernandez. According to the nonprofit organization, Stop Illegal Fishing, China has the world's largest distant water fishing fleet in the world.

This report contains material from Reuters and The Associated Press.

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