The Jakarta Post
Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi on Monday reiterated Indonesia’s position as a non-claimant state in the South China Sea dispute, roundly holding onto established sea boundaries, as lawmakers insisted the government should take a firmer stance in the disputed area.
In a meeting of the House of Representatives’ Commission I overseeing defense and foreign affairs, the minister cleared up various maritime issues, including the South China Sea dispute, which was often confusing. She clarified Indonesia’s stance on two counts, namely its internationally recognized sea boundaries and its position as a non-claimant state in the South China Sea dispute, which is taking place just beyond the country’s territory.
Retno explained in the meeting that Indonesia's territorial claim over its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) off the Natuna Islands in the South China Sea was based on the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Thus, Indonesia had no territorial waters that overlapped with China's, she affirmed.
The minister further said Indonesia was not involved in the South China Sea dispute because it was not a claimant to any of the disputed geographical features, including islands, coral reefs and lagoons, which were the basis of the disagreements over the region.
Should China claim Indonesian territorial waters, Retno asserted, the first question the country would raise with China was on "what basis exactly" it made such a claim and "whether the claim was recognized by international laws".
"This world is organized based on international laws and this world is not organized by historical-based claims. UNCLOS is the ocean charter; historical facts cannot annul UNCLOS, but in reverse UNCLOS annuls historical facts," Retno said, referring to China's often-used claim of having a traditional fishing zone.
Golkar Party politician Tantowi Yahya expressed concern over China's repetitive excuse and its risk of undermining Indonesia's sovereignty over its waters.
In response, Retno asserted that all of those incidents took place within Indonesia's EEZ and, accordingly, the Indonesian Navy had taken appropriate law enforcement measures.
"All countries must obey and respect existing international laws," Retno said. (ebf)
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