Jakarta. China lodged a protest to the Indonesian authorities on Sunday (19/06) after an Indonesian naval vessel fired warning shots at several Chinese fishing boats which the navy claimed were trawling illegally for fish near the Natuna Islands.
The shots injured a crew on one of the Chinese-flagged boats.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying criticized the Indonesian navy's excessive use of force on the disputed area of the South China Sea on Friday, claiming the body of water is part of “China’s traditional fishing grounds.”
The Indonesian warship damaged one Chinese fishing vessel and detained another with seven crews on board. The incidents happened when the Indonesian navy's Western Fleet was patrolling the waters off Natuna Islands as part of its routine training.
The navy's radar detected 12 Chinese fishing vessels sailing in Indonesian waters without permission during the patrol, said the training task force deputy commander Col. Friche Flack.
The detained vessel and its crew members were caught by the warship KRI Teuku Umar, Friche said.
“The Chinese vessels entered our exclusive economic zone near the Vietnamese border. We went on pursuit and caught one of them. 11 others managed to flee,” Friche told Batam Pos on Saturday.
A Chinese coast guard boat, the 3303, attempted to free the detained vessel but another Indonesia warship KRI Topak intercepted its effort.
“We immediately deployed coast guard vessels operating nearby to the site to protect Chinese fishing boats and fishermen and rescue and treat the injured,” Hua said in a statement on Sunday.
“China has also lodged a strong protest to the Indonesian government through the appropriate diplomatic channels. On the morning of June 18, the injured fisherman was sent to a hospital in Hainan for further treatment,” Hua said.
According to the ministry statement, Indonesia's show of aggression violated international laws including the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC).
Last month, the Indonesian navy also seized a Chinese boat, the Gui Bei Yu, in the resource-rich Natuna Sea off the northwest coast of the island of Borneo for alleged illegal fishing. China lodged a "stern" protest with Indonesia following the incident.
China has nevertheless said it is not disputing Indonesia's sovereignty over the Natuna Islands.