South Korea's coast guard has shot and killed a Chinese fisherman after officials say he resisted arrest while fishing illegally in South Korean waters.
The coast guard says it boarded the Chinese fishing boat Friday in the Yellow Sea, well within South Korea's exclusive economic zone.
The agency says dozens of Chinese sailors armed with beer bottles and knives had attacked the coast guard officers.
Hospital officials say the 45-year-old fisherman, the skipper of his vessel, died Friday shortly after being airlifted to a hospital in the southwestern South Korean town of Mokpo.
The coastguard said an autopsy would determine the cause of death.
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.
South Korea's coastguard regularly chases Chinese fishing boats out of its western seas and violence does sometimes occur.
“It appears that the today's situation was more serious than usual,” one coastguard official told Reuters by telephone.
Clashes between Chinese fishermen and the South Korean coast guard are not unusual and have strained relations in the past. A South Korean coast guard officer was stabbed to death by a Chinese fisherman in 2011 and the following year a Chinese fisherman died from injuries in a confrontation with the coastguard.
Material for this report came from AP, AFP, and Reuters.