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Jakarta Post

Indonesia talks sovereignty with China following foreign vessel controversy

  • Rizki Fachriansyah and Fadli

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta and Batam   /   Mon, September 14, 2020   /   06:09 pm
Indonesia talks sovereignty with China following foreign vessel controversy Chinese coast guard vessel 5204 was detected by Bakamla patrol ship KN Nipah 321 through an automatic identification system at around 10:00 a.m local time on Saturday. (Courtesy of Bakamla/--)

Indonesia has reasserted its sovereignty in talks with the Chinese government in light of the controversy surrounding the unauthorized deployment of a Chinese coast guard vessel into Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the North Natuna Sea off Riau Islands province.

The Foreign Ministry said the government had discussed the issue with the Chinese deputy ambassador to Indonesia in Jakarta on Sunday in the hopes of clarifying the intent behind China’s deployment of its coast guard vessel.

“The ministry emphasized that […] Indonesia's ZEE does not overlap with Chinese waters and [the government] therefore rejects China’s nine-dash line claim because it contradicts the 1982 UNCLOS [United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea],” Monday’s statement said.

It was reported that the Indonesian Maritime Security Agency (Bakamla) drove away a Chinese coast guard vessel from North Natuna waters on Saturday.

The vessel, identified as Chinese coast guard ship 5204, was detected by Bakamla patrol ship KN Nipah 321 through an automatic identification system at around 10:00 a.m. local time on Saturday.

In a statement on Sunday, Bakamla reported that the crew of the Chinese vessel had insisted they had the right to patrol the so-called nine-dash line – a boundary denoting China’s territorial claim to the South China Sea based on what it claims are traditional fishing grounds. One of the nine dashes slices through waters north of the Natuna Islands.

Natuna Legislative Council (DPRD) speaker Andes Putra said on Monday that the presence of foreign vessels in the region’s waters was not a surprise to locals.

“Every week, we receive reports from residents regarding the unauthorized activity of foreign fishing vessels,” Andes said.

“We have relayed the information to the TNI AL [Indonesian Navy] and other related [departments], but it has yet to reduce the number of foreign vessels [entering the region].”