Indonesia said it will continue to take “decisive” action against foreign ships operating illegally in waters under its jurisdiction after Beijing criticised its navy for shooting at Chinese fishing vessels.
Indonesian navy spokesman First Admiral Edi Sucipto today confirmed an Indonesian warship fired warning shots at Chinese fishing vessels in waters off Indonesia’s Natuna islands and detained one of the vessels and its seven crew members.
He said the incident occurred on Friday. “We will not hesitate to take decisive action against foreign ships, whatever their flag and nationality, when they commit violations in Indonesian territory,” Sucipto said.
China’s Foreign Ministry released a statement of protest on Sunday and said the Indonesian navy had “abused its military force.”
China’s expansive claims to the South China Sea do not include the Natuna islands in waters between Malaysia and Borneo. But China’s nine dash line, which it uses to roughly demarcate its ambitions for maritime boundaries, overlaps with Indonesia’s internationally-recognized exclusive economic zone.
The incident was the third such clash since March, when Indonesia intercepted a Chinese fishing vessel off the Natuna islands. In May, an Indonesian frigate fired shots at a Chinese trawler when it refused to stop fishing, and then seized the vessel and its eight crew members.