CHINA TOPIX

Updated 11:29 AM EDT, Tue, Jun 16, 2020

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Beijing, Jakarta Clash as Indonesia Arrests 8 Chinese Fishermen in Disputed South China Sea

Beijing, Jakarta Clash As Indonesia Arrests Eight Chinese Fishermen in Disputed South China Sea

(Photo : Getty Images) Indonesia has arrested eight Chinese fishermen who allegedly intruded into its exclusive economic zone near the Natuna islands in the disputed South China Sea this past Saturday.

Beijing and Jakarta were locked in a tense stand off in the disputed waters of the South China Sea after Indonesian Naval officers boarded a Chinese fishing vessel and arrested eight crew members on Saturday.

The Chinese Coast Guard is reported to have immediately come to the rescue of the fishing vessel, Kway Fei 10078, ramming it into international waters.

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The Jakarta Globe claims that Kway Fei 10078 was operating within Jakarta's exclusive economic zone at 4.34km off Natuna islands when it was chased by the Indonesian Coast Guard.

Fishing ground

The Coast Guard vessels of both countries reportedly clashed over the alleged illegal fishing vessel.

China has defended the vessel's operations saying the area where the incident happened is a traditional Chinese fishing ground.

The incident has angered Indonesia, prompting it to summon the Chinese ambassador to explain Beijing's provocative actions in the disputed waters.

"We will summon the Chinese ambassador to discuss the issue," said Susi Pudjiastuti, Indonesia's minister of fisheries and maritime affairs, at a press conference on Saturday.

Standoff

Susi pointed out that the standoff happened as the Indonesian Coast Guard was in the process of capturing the Chinese vessel.

"We respect China, but we must also protect our sovereignty to the islands," the minister added.

Susi said she believes that the Chinese Coast Guard came to the rescue of the fishing vessel by ramming it towards international waters to prevent it from being towed away and being sunk.

Regular operation

A Chinese official claims the fishing vessel was conducting its regular operation when it was chased by an armed Indonesian ship.

The spokesman of the Chinese Embassy in Jakarta Xu Hangtian said the consulate hopes that Indonesian authorities could properly tackle the incident taking into account Indonesia and China's bilateral relations.

No formal response has been issued yet by Jakarta about the incident, but Susi maintained that the arrest of the eight crew members of the fishing vessel will suffice for now.

Serious incident

"We want to avoid a much more serious incident, so we settled on just arresting the eight crew members. The ship got away but we have the eight men in custody to help us investigate this incident," she explained.

Beijing is laying claim to a large portion of the oil and gas-rich South China Sea. The US and other claimant countries have slammed China over its land reclamation activities and militarization of the South China Sea region.

The Philippines, Taiwan, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and Indonesia have competing claims in the region. Beijing has been accused of conducting activities in the area in alleged violation of the rights of the other claimant-countries.

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