The coast guard opened fire after the fishing vessel failed to respond to requests to be boarded, Argentinian officials said.
The Argentinian coast guard has opened fire on and sunk a Chinese fishing boat illegally fishing in the South Atlantic.
A video posted on the coast guard’s website showed the large Chinese boat listing in the open sea while being chased by the coast guard.
Poaching of fish is a massive problem in the Atlantic and Southern Ocean, and fishing boats are often pursued across the ocean, but is highly unusual for a ship to end up being sunk.
The coast guard said the Lu Yan Yuan Yu 010 was fishing without permission off Puerto Madryn, 1,300 kilometres (800 miles) south of Buenos Aires, and inside Argentina’s exclusive economic zone.
It also said the fishing boat had attempted to ram its vessel.
“The offending vessel carried out manoeuvres to collide with the coast guard patrol… Thus the order was given to fire on different sections of the vessel, damaging it,” the coast guard said in a statement.
It added that the ship had refused requests in Spanish and English to be boarded, turning off its lights and attempting to flee towards international waters.
“To protect our fishing resources, and given the (Chinese) boat’s refusal to be boarded, warning shots were fired,” it said.
The boat’s captain is expected to be handed over to police and will appear before a judge.
Beijing’s foreign ministry expressed “serious concern” over the incident, and has asked for a full investigation.
The ministry said on its website it had received information that the 32 Chinese sailors on board were safe.
Four were rescued by the coast guard and the others by Chinese boats nearby.
China is a key export market for Argentinian agriculture and raw materials.
President Xi Jinping visited the country in 2014, and said the two countries’ relationship was poised to reach unprecedented “new horizons”.
China has expanded its long-distance fishing fleet to meet surging demand for seafood. It is the world’s largest market for seafood and has the biggest overseas fishing fleet.
It now has more than 2,460 vessels, which do most of their fishing off West Africa, according to research at Nanyang Technological University.
Last year Greenpeace said that at least 74 fishing vessels owned and operated by four Chinese distant water fishing companies had been exposed for fishing illegally off west Africa.
In 2012, Argentina said it had captured two Chinese fishing vessels illegally fishing for squid in its exclusive economic zone, after firing warning shots.