Indonesia protests against China in South China Sea fishing dispute
The Jakarta Post
Indonesia on Monday strongly protested against the Chinese government and demanded it clarify the actions of a Chinese coast guard vessel that reportedly had contravened law enforcement measures being conducted by Indonesian authorities against a China-flagged boat allegedly committing illegal fishing in Indonesian waters.
Foreign Affairs Minister Retno LP Marsudi said the Indonesian government had conveyed a note of protest to the Chinese government, outlining the transgressions conducted by the coast guard vessel that the minister said had "violated the sovereignty and jurisdiction of Indonesian territory within the exclusive economic zone (ZEE) and continental shelf".
The minister made the statement after the Indonesian Maritime and Fisheries Monitoring Task Force attempted on Sunday to capture a Chinese fishing boat that had been fishing illegally in Indonesian waters near the Natuna Islands before a Chinese coast guard vessel forcibly rescued the trawler by pushing it back into Chinese waters.
In the absence of the Chinese Ambassador to Indonesia, Xie Feng, Retno summoned Sun Weide, minister counsellor of China's embassy in Jakarta, to her office following the incident to provide an explanation about the dispute.
Retno said the coast guard ship had disrupted Indonesian authorities who were acting in accordance to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Furthermore, the minister also pointed to the actions of the coast guard ship as a violation of Indonesian territorial waters.
Retno demanded clarification from the Chinese government about the incident during her meeting with Weide.
"In good interstate relations, the principles of international law, including UNCLOS 1982, must be respected," Retno stressed during a press conference following her meeting with Weide.
Separately, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti had called the intervention by the coast guard vessel 'arrogant'.
Susi said the incident hampered Indonesia's war against illegal fishing, adding that she would demand the Chinese government hand over the arrested fishing boat to Indonesian authorities.
The incident took place amid rising tension in the disputed South China Sea where several Southeast Asian countries have expressed concerns over China's land reclamation.
Several Southeast Asian countries have overlapping claims in the area, over large territories that are considered important shipping corridors.
Indonesia is not a claimant in the disputed territory, but has expressed concerns over China's claim of the resource-rich Natuna Islands within their self-proclaimed 'nine-dash' territorial line. (ebf)
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