President Joko Widodo claimed that the Natuna Islands is the territory of the Republic of Indonesia - Photo by President Office

JAKARTA (TheInsiderStories) – President Joko Widodo claimed that the Natuna Islands is the territory of the Republic of Indonesia. The statement was said by the head of state during his visit to the island today (01/08).

“From the beginning until now this Natuna is Indonesia,” he asserted by adding there is no bargaining over Indonesia’ territory, including Natuna.

Based on the information he received from the navy, Widodo affirmed there were no foreign ships entering Indonesian territory as reported by various media. But to assured the information he decided visit the island to ensure law enforcement at the exclusive economic zone (EEZ). 

After tension between Jakarta and Beijing risen since last week, Indonesia has sent four F-16 fighter jets to patrol Natuna followed a reports that dozens of Chinese fishing boats, backed by Chinese coast guard ships, had entered waters in Indonesia’ EEZ. 

Commenting on the tension in South China Sea, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang admitted that both have been in communication with each other through diplomatic channels.

Early January, he said, the country has a right to sail ships near the Natuna islands. However, Indonesian government saying there was “no legal basis” to Beijing’ claims that its ships could sail in Indonesia’s exclusive zone in the South China Sea.

Shuang claimed, China’ position and propositions comply with international law, including UNCLOS (the United Nation’ Convention on the Law of the Sea). Indonesia itself has summoned Chinese Ambassador Xiao Qian and lodged a protest after confirming that 63 Chinese fishing boats and two coast guard ships had sailed into Natuna islands since Dec. 19.

Earlier, Beijing says the waters off the Natuna are part of traditional fishing grounds for Chinese fishermen. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan also have their own overlapping claims to portions of the sea.

As a background, in 2017, Indonesia renamed the northern reaches of its EEZ as the North Natuna Sea. The dispute has soured Indonesia’ generally friendly relationship with China, its biggest trading partner and a major investor.

The last peak in tensions between Indonesia and China over the South China Sea was in 2016. At the time, Widodo held a meeting with several of his ministers on board a naval ship in a show of support.

A vital sea lane through which about US$5 trillion of shipping trade passes each year at the zones.

by Linda Silaen, Email: linda.silaen@theinsiderstories.com