China Refuses Indonesian Protests Regarding Incidents in Natuna Waters

Chinese ships enter Natuna waters (photo: special)

Jakarta, MINA – China rejected Indonesian protests accusing its fishing vessels of illegally entering Natuna waters, Riau Islands.

But China even claims, it has sovereignty in the South China Sea region near Natuna waters, Riau Islands, so that its ships can sail freely in the region.

“China has sovereignty over the Nansha Islands and sovereign rights and jurisdiction over waters close to the Nansha Islands (located in the South China Sea),” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told in a regular press conference in Beijing on Tuesday (31/12), as quoted from the website of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Geng stressed that China also has historical rights in the South China Sea. According to him, Chinese fishermen have long been fishing in those waters and around the Nansha Islands, which according to Indonesia is still an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

In fact, China’s claims for waters which were the main routes of international trade also overlap with a number of countries in Southeast Asia such as the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Brunei.

Geng also argued that the ship sailing in the region recently was a Chinese coast guard ship that conducting routine patrols.

“Routine patrols to maintain sea order and protect the rights and interests of our people who are legitimate in related waters,” said Geng.

Responding to it, Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in its statement, Indonesia reiterated its rejection of the historical claims by China over EEZ.

“China’s historical claim on the grounds that Chinese fishermen have long been active in the waters referred to is unilateral, has no legal basis and has never been recognized by the United Nations Convention for the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) 1982,” Indonesian Foreign Ministry stressed.

The argument, according to Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs was discussed and countered by the 2016 SCS Tribunal Decree. Indonesia also rejected the term “relevant waters” claimed by China because the term was unknown and not in accordance with UNCLOS 1982.

To that end, Indonesia urged China to explain the legal basis and clear boundaries regarding the claims of China in ZEEI based on UNCLOS 1982.

Based on 1982 UNCLOS Indonesia also does not have overlapping claims with China, so that it is not relevant to have any dialogue on maritime boundary delimitation. (T/RE1/P2)

Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)