South China Sea: Indonesia stands firm against Chinese claims in South China Sea region

NEW DELHI: South China Sea (SCS) could become a flashpoint between China and Indonesia, South East Asia’s biggest nation but with no claim in SCS region. Jakarta has reacted firmly to Chinese claims.

Indonesia recently rejected China’s claims over a disputed part of the South China Sea as “having no legal basis”. It also protested to Beijing over the presence of a Chinese coastguard vessel in its territorial waters.

A Chinese boat trespassed into Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone off the coast of the northern islands of Natuna, leading Indonesians officials to issue a “strong protest” and summon the Chinese ambassador in Jakarta.

Speaking in Beijing last 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.

Indonesia’s foreign ministry issued a statement on Wednesday and asked China to explain the “legal basis and clear borders” regarding its claims on the exclusive economic zone, as based on the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

“China’s claims to the exclusive economic zone on the grounds that its fishermen have long been active there… have no legal basis and have never been recognized by the UNCLOS 1982,” the foreign ministry said.

Jakarta also noted that the argument had been refuted during China’s legal defeat against the Philippines in 2016 over disputed South China claims at Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague.

“Indonesia historic rights claimed by China are very recent… it just in 1993 became known to Indonesia, when the Chinese delegation distributed a 9 dash line map during Workshop on SCS. No such a claim raised before that. At least 9DL was absent in 1969, when Indonesia-Malaysia concluded Agreement on delimitation of continental shelf in SCS that, known later, as lying within 9DL in SCS. The Agreement was deposited to the UN and thus publicly known since 1969. But no Chinese protest was recorded,” Dr Damos Dumoli Agusman Director General for Legal Affairs and International Treaties Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Indonesia told ET over phone from Jakarta.

“During the negotiation of UNCLOS since 1970s there is no record showing discussion on historic rights, 9DL, relevant waters, except historic bays and historic title for delimiting territorial sea,” Agusman said, adding, “In 1980 Indonesia declared its EEZ and encroaching-known later- as 9DL, and no Chinese protest recorded. It just the 2003 Agreement between Indonesia-Vietnam that received the protest. So if the claim is so recent, how it acquires its historic value?”

China’s Foreign Ministry on the Natuna Islands were shocking to many Indonesians. Indonesian officials said Indonesia has to do nothing with China over the Natuna Islands and their surrounding waters, as UNCLOS does not recognize “traditional” fishing grounds, and therefore Jakarta would not open any negotiations with Beijing.

“Among Indonesian Military officers, however, the common mood is that “China’s position is totally unacceptable and we should take concrete actions in the field”. For millions of Indonesians, China’s diplomat has crossed the line by openly challenging Indonesia’s territorial integrity. Their pride as a nation has been wounded, for right or wrong reasons. “China can easily do it to smaller members of ASEAN, but not with us”, was the common reaction of Indonesians on social media,” according to a report in leading Indonesian daily Jakarta Post.

China claims nearly the whole of the South China Sea, as reflected in its “nine-dash line”.

Source link

Related posts

Leave a Comment