Argentina’s coast guard has sunk a Chinese trawler that was fishing illegally within its territorial waters, the coast guard said on Tuesday.
In a high-seas chase, a coast guard vessel on Monday pursued the fishing vessel Lu Yan Yuan Yu 010 toward international waters, firing warning shots across the Chinese boat’s bow as it attempted to raise the crew by radio, Reuters reported.
“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 coast guard said in a statement.
It was not clear if the vessel sank on Monday or Tuesday.
President Mauricio Macri’s center-right government, which took office in December, will probably be keen to avoid a diplomatic ruckus with China which has gained a strong foothold in South America, traditionally the United States’ backyard.
Relations between Argentina and China tightened under former leftist leader Cristina Fernandez.
While Macri promised during last year’s presidential race to review all new contracts with China, he has shown no sign of doing so.
Among those deals were an agreement to finance and build two nuclear power plants in Argentina in a deal worth up to US$15 billion.
A spokesman for Argentina’s foreign ministry said the judiciary was investigating the incident.
Coast guards using radar picked up the trawler fishing off the coast of Puerto Madryn, Chubut province, a zone known for squid.
Shots were fired into the hull of the Lu Yan Yuan Yu 010 after it ignored radio calls to allow the Argentine coast guard to board and repeated warning fire.
The crew abandoned ship when the vessel began to go down.
Four crewmen were rescued by the coast guard while others were picked up by another Chinese vessel shadowing the pursuit.
China has the world’s largest distant water fishing fleet, with more than 2,000 vessels, the not-for-profit group Stop Illegal Fishing said last year.
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