Foreign Affairs/US-Indonesia Relations

Indonesia Pushes Back on Chinese Natuna Claims

Indonesia has dismissed China’s invitation to sit down for a dialogue to “manage disputes” over Indonesia’s exclusive economic zones (EEZ) in the North Natuna Sea in the Riau Islands province, arguing that there are no overlapping claims there – a message Indonesia has sent consistently since 2016. Following revelations of a wave of illicit activity by Chinese coastguard and fishing vessels in Natuna waters last week, Indonesia summoned Chinese Ambassador to Indonesia Xiao Qian on Monday to lodge a formal protest. The Foreign Ministry said Indonesia would never recognize China’s “Nine-Dash Line” – the geographic expression of Beijing’s sweeping claims over the South China Sea – because it was contrary to international law.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang insisted on Tuesday that the ships were performing “routine” activities to maintain maritime order and protect China’s legitimate rights and interests in the “relevant” waters. Using what the spokesman claimed were historical rights in the South China Sea, China maintained it was simply asserting its sovereignty over the Spratly Islands as well as its sovereign rights and jurisdiction over relevant waters nearby. (Jakarta Post)