Indonesia steps up sea patrols to monitor China fishing boats

China has been flexing its military muscle in the South China Sea lately. (Reuters pic)

JAKARTA: Indonesia’s military has stepped up naval and aerial patrols of the Natuna Sea area because of a rising number of Chinese fishing vessels in the region.

The southeast Asian nation has deployed three ships and two aircraft in the gas-rich North Natuna Sea, and two additional vessels are on the way to join the group, Yudo Margono, commander of the Joint Regional Defense Command, said in statement.

The deployment came after Indonesian Foreign Affairs Minister Retno Marsudi said China should comply with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and reiterated Jakarta’s position that it will never acknowledge Beijing’s nine-dash line, a demarcation it uses to show its claims in the area.

Marsudi sent a diplomatic note to Beijing protesting the intrusion of Chinese vessels into Indonesia’s special economic zone in the area, according to a statement on the Cabinet Secretary’s website.

China is in dispute with several southeast Asian countries over its claim to areas of the South China Sea. On Dec 12, Malaysia submitted to the United Nation’s Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf information on what it believes are its sovereignty rights in the area.