Indonesia Protests Presence of Chinese Ship in Its Waters
15 Sep 2020, 16:42 GMT+10
Indonesia said on Monday that it had protested to Beijing about the intrusion of a Chinese coast guard ship in its exclusive economic zone off the Natuna Islands, as ship tracking data seen by BenarNews, an RFA-affiliated online news service, revealed a Chinese fishing fleet entered the area around the same time.
While the coast guard vessel left the area on Monday, ship-tracking data showed the fishing fleet less than 130 nautical miles from Natuna Besar, and less than 90 nautical miles from Laut Island, in Indonesia’s Natuna regency, at around 11 pm local time.
An Indonesian patrol ship spotted China Coast Guard ship 5204 on Saturday and asked it to leave, Indonesia’s maritime agency Bakamla said. It did not mention sighting a Chinese fishing fleet.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Teuku Faizasyah said that Jakarta in its protest to the Chinese Embassy emphasized that it rejects China’s so-called Nine-Dash Line, which Beijing uses to demarcate its claims in the South China Sea. The Natuna Islands lie in the southern reaches of the sea, an area that Indonesia calls the Natuna Sea.
“We made it clear to the Chinese deputy ambassador that Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone does not overlap with Chinese waters,” Faizasyah said.
China’s Nine-Dash Line, though, overlaps with Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in waters off the Natunas, U.S.-based experts on the South China Sea told BenarNews in January after a similar incursion by Chinese coast guard and fishing boats.
Faizasyah said that China’s Nine-Dash line violates the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). UNCLOS defines an EEZ as an area generally extending 200 nautical miles from shore, within which coastal countries retain special rights to exploration and use of marine resources, even though it is international territory.
Bakamla spokesman Wisnu Pramandita said that when an Indonesian patrol ship spotted CCG 5204 on Saturday and asked it to leave, the Chinese ship refused.
“They said they were patrolling because the area is within China’s jurisdiction,” he told BenarNews. “They can pass by, but patrolling the area means they treat it as their territory, so we told them to go.”
CCG 5204 finally left the area at noon on Monday, Wisnu said.
Four other Chinese vessels
Meanwhile, ship-tracking data shows that CCG 5204 has spent the last month patrolling Vanguard Bank, a submerged feature off Vietnam’s southernmost coast that is disputed between Vietnam and China.
Vanguard Bank, which sits a little over 200 nautical miles from Natuna Besar, has been the site of previous stand-offs between the two countries.
However, on Sept. 11, the 5204 began broadcasting a contradictory Automatic Identification Signal, or AIS, showing it in multiple places at once.
This is typically a sign of ‘spoofing,’ which is a technique Chinese coast guard ships have used in the past to hide their activities.One commercial ship-tracking tool showed the 5204 just within Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone on Saturday, while ship-tracking data seen by BenarNews showed it patrolling Vanguard Bank at the same time.
Meanwhile, the four fishing vessels that entered Indonesian waters over the weekend are owned and operated by the Fuzhou-based Dong Xin Long Ocean Fishing company, ship-tracking data shows.
These vessels on Sunday sailed through an area of the North N