The Jakarta Post
The Indonesian Military (TNI) claims that Chinese fishing vessels remained in Natuna, Riau Islands, on Sunday despite the ongoing diplomatic tug of war between Indonesia and China over the latter’s naval maneuvers in the region last week.
Joint Defense Area Command (Kogabwilhan) I commander Rear Adm. Yudo Margono said the foreign vessels had persisted and had been seen catching fish in waters only 130 miles (209 kilometers) from Ranai, the capital of Natuna regency.
“The ships were accompanied by a couple of Chinese coastguard vessels and one fishing guard vessel,” Yudo told the press on Sunday as quoted by Antara news agency.
He said the TNI had deployed two warships in an official military operation to drive the foreign vessels out of Natuna.
“We’ve also been actively communicating with the Chinese coastguard vessels, urging them to leave on their own accord,” Yudo said, adding that the operation would last until the foreign vessels leave Indonesia’s maritime regions.
“We are focusing on adding military power there. We will deploy four additional warships to drive out the foreign vessels tomorrow.”
Following a series of naval maneuvers by Chinese coastguard and fishing vessels in Natuna waters last week, Indonesia summoned Chinese Ambassador to Indonesia Xiao Qian on Monday to lodge a formal protest, with the Foreign Ministry saying that Indonesia would never recognize China's Nine-Dash Line — the geographic expression of Beijing's sweeping claims over the South China Sea — because it was contrary to international law.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang insisted on Tuesday that the ships were performing "routine" activities to assert its sovereignty over the nearby Spratly Islands as well as its sovereign rights and jurisdiction over relevant waters nearby, adding that China would like to work with Indonesia to continue managing disputes properly through bilateral dialogue.
Indonesia responded on Wednesday by firmly rejecting the asserted historical claims over its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the North Natuna Sea. The ministry said they were "unilateral, have no legal basis and have never been recognized by the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea". (rfa)