Asserting sovereignty, Indonesia renames part of South China Sea

Indonesia’s Deputy Minister for Maritime Affairs Arif Havas Oegroseno points at the location of North Natuna Sea on a new map of Indonesia during talks with reporters in Jakarta, Indonesia, July 14, 2017. Photo: Beawiharta

Tom Allard and Bernadette Christina Munthe July 14, 2017

JAKARTA (Reuters) – Indonesia renamed the northern reaches of its exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea as the North Natuna Sea on Friday, the latest act of resistance by Southeast Asian nations to China’s territorial ambitions in the maritime region.

Seen by analysts as an assertion of Indonesian sovereignty, part of the renamed sea is claimed by China under its contentious maritime boundary, known as the ‘nine-dash line’, that encompasses most of the resource-rich sea.

Several Southeast Asian states dispute China’s territorial claims and are competing with China to exploit the South China Sea’s abundant hydrocarbon and fishing resources. China has raised the ante by deploying military assets on artificial islands constructed on shoals and reefs in disputed parts of the sea.

Indonesia insists it’s a non-claimant state in the South China Sea dispute but has clashed with China over fishing rights around the Natuna Islands, detaining Chinese fishermen and expanding its military presence in the area over the past 18 months.

Unveiling the new official map, the deputy of maritime sovereignty at the Ministry of Maritime Affairs, Arif Havas Oegroseno, noted the northern side of its exclusive economic zone was the site of oil and gas activity.

“We want to update the naming of the sea [and] we gave a new name in line with the usual practice: the North Natuna Sea,” he told reporters.

In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said he didn’t know anything about the details of the issue, but said the name South China Sea had broad international recognition and clear geographic limits.

“Certain countries’ so-called renaming is totally meaningless,” he told a daily news briefing. “We hope the relevant country can meet China halfway and properly maintain the present good situation in the South China Sea region, which has not come easily.”

‘Clear Message’

I Made Andi Arsana, an expert on the Law of the Sea from Indonesia’s Universitas Gadjah Mada, said the renaming carried no legal force but was a political and diplomatic statement.

“It will be seen as a big step by Indonesia to state its sovereignty,” he told Reuters. “It will send a clear message, both to the Indonesian people and diplomatically speaking.”

Euan Graham, director of the international security program at the Lowy Institute, said Indonesia’s action followed renewed resistance to Chinese territorial claims by other Southeast Asian states.

“This will be noticed in Beijing,” he said.

Last week, Vietnam extended an Indian oil concession off its coast while a joint venture led by state-owned PetroVietnam commenced drilling further south. China has a territorial claim in both areas.

Meanwhile, the director of the Philippines Energy Resource Development Bureau, Ismael Ocampo, said on Wednesday that the country could lift a suspension on oil and gas drilling on the Reed Bank by December. The underwater mountain, lying 85 nautical miles off the Philippines coast, is also claimed by China.

Exploration activity was suspended in late 2014 as the Philippines sought an international ruling on China’s territorial claim. The Philippines won the case in the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague one year ago.

China refused to recognize the decision. Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, who took office on June 30 last year, expressed reluctance about enforcing the decision at the time, as he sought deeper diplomatic and economic ties with China.

However, the Philippines lately has become more assertive about its sovereignty.

More than two dozen oil, gas and coal blocks, including additional areas in disputed waters, may be offered during the December bidding, Ocampo said on Wednesday.

Reporting by Tom Allard and Bernadette Christina Munthe; Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard in Beijing; Editing by Bill Tarrant

Source: Reuters “Asserting sovereignty, Indonesia renames part of South China Sea”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


13 Comments on “Asserting sovereignty, Indonesia renames part of South China Sea”

  1. Joseph says:

    This is only Indonesia renaming its island from English to Indonesian. It is not only Natuna/SCS but also Southern Indonesia/Nothern Australia. There’s no China and Chinese involved whatsoever. See how simple news is heavily politicized to meet Western interest. It shows how desperate the Westerners are.


    • Reader says:

      Is there a pattern here? America using its fake news media and its accomplices like the delhi “thug” and “prostitute” Tsai – in collaboration with that “nobody” U.S. Congress which fancies themselves the imperial Roman Forum deciding and dictating the regional countries fate and destinies – to “coincidentally” challenging China at the same time?

      I have a strong suspicion there is. It means trump can’t be trusted. Else he’s a powerless lame duck president controlled by his own appointees and the “senators” at the “forum”. Even if not, he’s incompetent. Imagine trump a “Julius Caesar”? What a joke.


  2. Fre Okin says:

    Notice all these Asian monkeys are very good at playing potato politics to fool their own people. PH, now Indonesia, they rename the seas to stir up nationalist feelings among the illiterate populace there. UN will never recognize this monkey business.

    Due to the low IQ of these people, the moment a name is identified to their country like Indian Ocean, these fools start to think the Whole Indian Ocean belong to them, so they start to send their navy, subs all over to the far end, even near Africa to ‘prove’ they have ownership.

    Notice this is different from the Chinese SCS and ECS naming as the Chinese have traditional presence in both of these seas, so it is not the same as say the Indian Ocean where the Indians are limited to just the EEZ for fishing historically. They don’t travel all the way to Africa, Australia side back then to fish, so they have a psychotic disorder behaving like the whole Indian Ocean belong to them.

    Further, these Indonesia monkeys should call the Malacca Strait as say, Sumatra Strait so they can assert sovereignty and take ownership of the piracy that come from Indonesia.


  3. Joseph says:

    Why is that my comment would have a delay?


  4. Simon says:

    China should just take Natuna and use it as a naval base.


  5. alking1957 says:

    There is onky one way to resolve any territorial dispute – be much more powerful than other contestants.. thats what china needs to do. After that, no more disputes


    • Joseph says:

      One way to resolve SCS territorial dispute is to make confirmation. No one but the Westerners want disputes here, especially Reuters.


  6. Fre Okin says:

    “North Natuna Sea ” = monkey talk. Never will be in Google Map. Never part of international recognition.

    Besides it is not part of Indonesian EEZ which is limited to 12 NM per PCA ruling last year ‘Taiping island is a rock’ , so all Natuna islands at the furthest ends, smaller than Taiping Define Indonesia’s territorial water. Nobody dispute waters Inside the Natuna Archipelagos.

    Any ‘North Natuna Sea ‘ outside this 12 NM is a violation of PCA ruling. Maybe the Indonesians are populated by a bunch of illiterates like the Susi fishery minister woman who don’t have more than high school education and know nothing about how international law operates. It is clear China is up against a bunch of very poorly educated neighbors who need to be embarrassed for their lack of literacy.


    • Steve says:

      Indonesia is probably following Philippines footsteps, when part of the SCS was renamed West Philippines Sea in 2012. Have submitted to the UN but getting the international community to accept is another case matter. Indonesia will be submitting to the UN on similar grounds. Don’t be surprised that illiteracy can go a long way up to the UN.


      • Fre Okin says:

        Looks like China will have to fight a 1000 years war with these bad mutations, hopefully slow burn on and off, nothing major. They are mostly temperamental, low IQ, easy to be misled by their nationalist leaders, not much different than the Indians. This is not racism but factual reality Same observation about their brethen in Malaysia, many of these mutants are lazy, stupid and easy to be misled.


      • Joseph says:

        No. It’s only Reuters seeking Phillipines’ replacement. Natuna is demarcated by both China and Indonesia. What would be the sense of fighting over it? But pone thing true is, Indonesia is pushing for Indonesian name over English name. In Indonesia, everything is in English names, not Chinese or Indonesian.


    • Reader says:

      Truly? That Susi girl minister has only secondary school education and that’s it? Shocking!


  7. Joseph says:

    Those islands are clearly Indonesian, as recognized by China. Indonesia does not need to ‘assert sovereignty’, except to the West who had challenge Indonesian sovereignty in the past, and surrounding countries. It is common to change the name to suit our language. After all not everyone speak English. It is arrogant to assume that we are all comfortable with English name. After all the Westerners do not live here.