Indonesian Navy's Western Fleet commander Rear Admiral A. Taufiq R. explained the chronology of the latest Natuna Sea standoff on Tuesday (21/06). (Antara Photo/Rivan Awal Lingga)

Foreign Minister Confirms Arrest of Chinese Fishing Boat, Crews


JUNE 21, 2016

Jakarta. Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi has reported the latest Natuna Sea standoff involving Chinese fishing boats to the House of Representatives after being summoned by President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo to the State Palace on Monday (20/06).

According to an official statement from the Foreign Ministry, Indonesian warships encountered up to 12 Chinese fishing boats inside the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) at 4.24 a.m. last Friday.

Some of the Chinese boats had cast their fishing nets, before trying to escape with four Indonesian warships in hot pursuit.

The Chinese fishing boats ignored orders from Indonesian navy officers to stop and turn off their engines.

The Indonesian warships eventually fired warning shots into the air and sea. Some of the Chinese fishing boats had almost crashed into the warships as they tried to escape.

Retno said a Chinese fishing boat with a hull number of 19038 was taken into Indonesian custody at 9.55 a.m. Seven ship crews were arrested without any injury.

A Chinese Coast Guard boat had approached one of the Indonesian warships while it was heading to Sabang Mawang, and communicated through radio asking for the release of the Chinese boat and its crews.

Indonesian navy officers on the warship rejected the request. Later, officials found two tons of fish in the detained Chinese vessel.

Retno said all of Indonesia's actions during Friday's incident were based on the United Nations’ 1982 Convention on Laws of the Seas (UNCLOS), which said that all states have the right to enforce the law on its waters, including within its EEZ.

President Jokowi on Monday instructed his ministers to protect Indonesia's sovereignty over the Natuna Islands without undermining the country's good relations with China, after Beijing lodged an official protest against the Indonesian navy's "indiscriminate use of force."

Friday's incident came amid what many have called China'a growing assertiveness in the resource-rich South China Sea, most of which is claimed by the country. Other claimants include the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei.

China has said it does not dispute Indonesia's sovereignty over the sea near Natuna Islands, but has included parts of it in its so-called "nine-dash line."