Natuna Waters Issue, Prabowo: China is a Friend Country

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Mahinda Arkyasa

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  • TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto is looking forward to a solution for the issue concerning China's unilateral claim over North Natuna waters. Nevertheless, Prabowo is aware that each country has their own stance.

    "We'll resolve this well. China is a friend country," Prabowo said at the Maritime and Investment Ministry office on Friday, January 3, 2020.

    Similar with Prabowo, Coordinating Minister for Maritime and Investment Affairs Luhut Pandjaitan also hoped that the issue with China will not worsen. "It is actually simple, no need to make it a big issue," Luhut said. "Why should we quarrel over something that does not need to be an issue."

    Luhut also said that Indonesia has acknowledged that the Natutna 200 nautical mile area is the country's exclusive economic zone. Luhut said that Indonesia never acknowledged any territorial claim made by China.

    The Indonesian Maritime Security Agency (Bakamla) previously explained that there has bee a breach over Indonesia's exclusive economic zone in the North Natuna waters on December 2019. Bakamla said that the issue started when Chinese coast guard ship appears on the border of the water.

    "On December 10, 2019, we intercepted and dismissed the ship. On December 23, it enters [our territory] again, coast guard ship and several of Chinese fishing ships," said Marine Operation Director of Bakamla Nursyawal Embun.

    Nurwsyawal said that when they appear in Indonesian waters, the Chinese coast guard ship was guarding a number of Chinese fishing ships that had entered Indonesia's exclusive economic zone. At that time, their presence was discovered by KM Tanjung Dato 301. When they was dismissed, Nursyawal said that the Chinese ships refused and argued that they were in their territorial waters.

    "Because we saw two coast guard ships and one frigate further away, so we only shadow them. We then report it to higher command," Nursyawal said.

    Indonesia has firmly stated that it would never acknowledge the Nine-Dash Line established unilaterally by China along Natuna Waters, Riau Islands. Foreign Affairs Minister Retno Marsudi said that the claim does not adhere to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) 1982

    "We do not acknowledge the Nine Dash-Line because it’s a unilateral claim made by China which has no legal basis of international law, especially UNCLOS 1982," Retno said.

    Retno added that the government will strengthen Indonesia's position in dealing with the situation in Natuna.

    FRANCISCA CHRISTY