China, South Korea at odds over Yellow Sea stabbing

A Chinese fishing captain stabbed and killed a South Korean coast guard officer this week when the officer boarded his vessel to arrest him for fishing in South Korean waters. Another officer was stabbed as well.

This week, the crisis came when a Chinese fisherman stabbed two South Korean coast guard commandos when they tried to arrest the fishermen for operating illegally in Korean waters. Officials say the fisherman denies having stabbed anyone.

South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo newspaper noted that this was the second murder of a South Korean sailor by Chinese fishermen over illegal fishing in the South China Sea in three years. The first drowned after an attack in 2008.

Chosun Ilbo went on say that the only way to deterfurther violence was “strong reprisals.”

Adding violence to the already-tense international relationship would not help things, but it could help protect Koreans. Neither of these incidents have directly involved the Chinese government, but they certainly illustrate an attitude of hostility between China and South Korea.

With strong U.S. backing, the small nation of South Korea poses a significant threat to China, as any engagement could draw action from the Pentagon and possibly Japan. And as we learned in 1914, it only takes one violent death to start a very, very large war. Let’s hope for the sake of the region that those Chinese fishing captains can limit their knife use to the fish.

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