THE increased presence of Chinese vessels in the disputed territorial waters in the South China Sea as of late has irked both the Indonesian and Malaysian governments.
On Monday, Indonesia demanded that the Chinese government explain the “encroachment” of its coast guard vessel, claiming that it had interfered with Indonesia’s seizing of a Chinese boat that was fishing illegally in its waters.
According to the Jakarta Post, Indonesian Foreign Affairs Minister Retno Marsudi said her government had sent a diplomatic note to China to protest the actions of the coast guard vessel.
She said the vessel had defied Indonesia’s control of its exclusive economic zone (ZEE) and continental shelf areas.
This followed the botched attempt by the Indonesian Maritime and Fisheries Monitoring Task Force to capture the Chinese fishing boat near the Natuna Islands. Indonesia claimed the Chinese coast guard vessel “rescued” the boat by bringing it back into Chinese waters.
The paper also quoted Retno as saying the Indonesian authorities acted in accordance to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
She accused the Chinese coast guard vessel of trespassing into Indonesian territorial waters.
Retno had reportedly summoned a Chinese envoy to seek an explanation on the issue, but stressed that Indonesia wanted to preserve strong ties with China without compromising on its sovereignty.
In Kuala Lumpur, Shahidan Kassim, the Malaysian Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, said about 100 Chinese fishing boats along with two Chinese Coast Guard ships were spotted trespassing into Malaysian waters yesterday near Beting Patinggi Ali.
The incident prompted the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency to increase monitoring of the area by dispatching more vessels there in concert with the Royal Malaysian Navy.
He added that Malaysia would take legal action against those who have been found to have encroached into its Exclusive Economic Zone, according to a local report.