Indonesia boosts patrols after 'trespass' in its waters

JAKARTA • Indonesia has increased patrols around islands near the disputed South China Sea after a Chinese coast guard vessel "trespassed" into Indonesia's exclusive economic zone, the authorities said yesterday.

The Chinese vessel entered waters off the coast of the northern Natuna Islands in mid-December, leading the Indonesian Foreign Ministry to issue a "strong protest" and summon the Chinese ambassador in Jakarta.

Mr Nursyawal Embut, director of sea operations of Indonesia's Maritime Security Agency, told Reuters that the agency had deployed more ships to the Natuna Sea.

"We're intensifying patrols in the sea to anticipate territorial violations, and also illegal fishing at North Natuna," he said.

Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi also told reporters that the government had agreed to increase patrols in the waters.

On Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang had said China had sovereignty over the Spratly Islands and their waters, and that both China and Indonesia have "normal" fishing activities there. He did not mention the Natuna Islands, which lie to the south-west.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 04, 2020, with the headline 'Indonesia boosts patrols after 'trespass' in its waters'. Print Edition | Subscribe