Indonesia vows to stand firm after skirmishes with Chinese ships

Indonesia's Vice President Jusuf Kalla speaks during an interview with Reuters in Jakarta, Indonesia, June 20, 2016. REUTERS/Beawiharta

Indonesia’s Vice President Jusuf Kalla speaks during an interview with Reuters in Jakarta, Indonesia, June 20, 2016. REUTERS/Beawiharta

Indonesia is determined to assert its exclusive right to a corner of the South China Sea where there has been a run of skirmishes between Indonesian navy ships and Chinese vessels, the vice-president said on Monday.

Jusuf Kalla told Reuters that Indonesia would send a message to Beijing demanding that it respect the Southeast Asian nation’s sovereignty over waters around the Natuna Islands.

China’s Foreign Ministry said over the weekend that an Indonesian naval vessel fired on a Chinese fishing boat near the chain of islands on Friday, injuring one person.

Indonesia’s navy responded that it had fired warning shots at several boats with Chinese flags it accused of fishing illegally but there were no injuries.

It was the third reported confrontation near the Natuna Islands this year and comes amid rising regional tensions over China’s assertiveness in the South China Sea.

“This is not a clash, but we are protecting the area,” Kalla said in an interview with Reuters at the presidential palace.

Asked if the Indonesian government had made a decision to be more assertive, he said: “Yes, we will continue.”

Asked about Kalla’s remarks on Monday, Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman for China’s Foreign Ministry, said China had expressed condemnation of the “indiscriminate use of force”.

“We urge the Indonesian side to refrain from any action that complicates or magnifies the dispute, or impacts the peace and stability of the region,” Hua said.

Indonesia is not part of a broader regional dispute over China’s reclamation activities in the South China Sea and Beijing’s claims on swathes of key waterways.

But Jakarta has objected to China’s inclusion of parts of the Indonesian-ruled Natuna Islands within a “nine-dash line” Beijing marks on maps to show its claim on the body of water.

China has said it does not dispute Indonesia’s sovereignty over the Natuna Islands, but Kalla said its ships sometimes claim that they have the right to operate in waters around the islands because they are “traditional Chinese fishing grounds”.

“But we are focused on the legal basis,” Kalla said, referring to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. “We will send a message to the other side to honor the area in accordance with the law.”

China claims most of the South China Sea, through which $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year. The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei have overlapping claims.

(Additional reporting by Megha Rajagopalan in BEIJING; Editing by Nick Macfie)

Source: Reuters “Indonesia vows to stand firm after skirmishes with Chinese ships”


2 Comments on “Indonesia vows to stand firm after skirmishes with Chinese ships”

  1. Fre Okin says:

    This idiot Indonesian VP Jusuf Kalla should read up UNCLOS rules of engagement before barking off about Chinese and other fishermen infringement into Indonesian Sovereignty.

    Sovereignty means a country can use military and civilian means for law enforcement, meaning navy and coast guard ships. UNCLOS only accord sovereignty up to 12 NM Territorial Sea. That is why they call it Territorial, sea, land which belong to a country. However 200 NM EEZ is Not Territorial, Not Sovereign sea.

    Infringement of 200 NM EEZ can only be made whole by penalizing the perceived intruder of the dollar value of fishes taken from the EEZ. There is No UNCLOS provision for excessive fining, imprisonment, damage to vessels or hurting foreign fishermen. Going beyond ‘making whole for the loss of fishing resources’ amount to acts of gangsterism by the Indonesian government against defenseless fishermen from China, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Myanmar etc who have being fishing there off Natuna pre UNCLOS. They have Historical Rights to continue doing that as it is a Preexistent Situation that cannot be erased by UNCLOS. UNCLOS does Not explicitly deny Historical Rights to fish in EEZ.

    Jusuf and other Indonesian leaders should explain Where they get the Legal Authority Under UNCLOS to use the Navy to conduct law enforcement against foreign fishermen. Even the Japanese don’t use the navy when the Taiwanese, Chinese fish in disputed waters around Diaoyu/Senkaku and Okintori atoll.

    Indonesia have put herself in the same league as Philippines, they are both International Law Breakers since UNCLOS Never give their military authority to be employed in law enforcement.


    • Joseph says:

      The question you should ask is whether Reuters really had interview with Jusuf Kalla. Indonesia officials are not easily readily available for interview for the convenient of foreign journalists these days, especially Western media. Reuters had been repeatedly busted for fabricating Indonesian officials comments and interviews in the past, especially those about Indonesia’s position on SCS, and about Indonesia’s gold mine in Papua province that the West covet so much.