China ships trespassing off Sarawak for two years: KL

KUALA LUMPUR • Malaysia has been lodging weekly diplomatic protests against the intrusion of Chinese coast guard ships near Beting Patinggi Ali, off the coast of Sarawak, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Shahidan Kassim said yesterday.

"We have never received any official claims from them (China)... They said the island (Beting Patinggi Ali) belongs to them, but the country is 400,000km away," said Datuk Seri Shahidan.

"We are taking diplomatic action. But, in whatever approach, they have to get out of our national waters," he said after opening the Alor Star Wanita Umno division meeting yesterday, reported The Malaysian Insider.

Mr Shahidan oversees the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) and the National Security Council (NSC). He said the vessels have been in Malaysian waters for more than two years, adding that he, along with senior officers from the Malaysian navy, MMEA and NSC, carried out an aerial survey of the intrusion in June. Beting Patinggi Ali is just 90 nautical miles from the shore of Miri, in Sarawak.

"No parties should try to trespass the territorial right of this country," said Mr Shahidan.

Meanwhile, Japan has joined United States-led maritime humanitarian exercises off the Philippines for the first time, as concerns mount among the three allies about China's growing assertiveness in the disputed South China Sea.

A Japanese navy replenishment ship was in Subic Bay, a former US naval base, to refuel a US navy floating hospital en route to Vietnam for the seven-nation humanitarian mission. It was the first time a Japanese navy ship had taken part in the humanitarian assistance and disaster relief drills from Subic Bay.

Japan has participated in past Pacific Partnership missions in other areas.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 16, 2015, with the headline 'China ships trespassing off Sarawak for two years: KL'. Print Edition | Subscribe