Natuna Dispute: Indonesia to Send 120 Fishermen to Prevent China's Exploitation

Indonesia to Send 120 Fishermen to Prevent China's Exploitation in Natuna dispute.
Coordinating Minister for Politics and Security Mahfud Md said Indonesia government would send fishermen from the North Coast (Pantura) of Java to catch fish in the Republic of Indonesia's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), Jakarta, Monday, 6 January 2020.

Mahfud also emphasized that the government will continue to increase patrols in the Natuna Sea. The former Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court said the government would continue to be present in the Natuna Sea. The government will also strengthen fishing patrols and activities there.

"The point is that we will be present, in accordance with the President's orders for a long time. The Presidential Decree said more than a year ago that we should be there. What kind of presence are there? One, routine patrols; second, marine activities, fishermen," said Mahfud.

"Well, today I received, from one of the Pantura regions, around 120 people who are ready to go first, in which they stated that they're ready to conduct service activities there to carry out the President's order, that we are present there and that (Natuna) is ours," he said

Natuna Dispute: UNCLOS vs NINE DASH-LINE.
Reported by CNN Indonesia in Teusday, January 7 2020, Head of the Koarmada Information Agency I Lt. Col. Laut (P) Fajar Tri Rohadi said the TNI (Indonesia Armed Force) deployed several types of ships, including Corvette and Frigate ships to the North Natura region.

"So we prepared about eight ships, it does not mean that all are all deployed. But for example there were three ships that entered, five came out. Because it is not possible for all the ships in the Natuna Sea to (sail) continuously," Fajar said.

Not only that, Fajar also explained that TNI had launched a maritime reconnaissance aircraft. In addition, it also fielded a 'Golden Gull' Boeing 737 from Air 5 Squadron. The Indonesian Air Force also sent 4 F-16 fighter jets from the Roesmin Nurjadin 16 Air Base Squadron to the Natuna waters, Riau Islands.

As quoted from the official press release, President Joko Widodo left for Natuna Regency, Riau Islands Province, Wednesday (01/08/2020). The President is planned to meet with hundreds of fishermen and inspect the ships. After that, the President will head to the Natuna Regency Regent's Office to hand over land rights certificates to Natuna's residents.

China's Response

China's response was conveyed by a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Minister, Geng Shuang, in a regular press statement, released on the website of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Tuesday (1/7/2020).

"As I said, about the recent maritime development, China and Indonesia have established communication with one another through diplomatic channels. China and Indonesia are comprehensive strategic partners," Geng Shuang said, according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry's website.

Geng also said that China and Indonesia have an important task to maintain regional peace and stability as Southeast Asian coastal countries and major powers in the region.

On April 13 this year, diplomatic relations between China and Indonesia will be 70 years old. China regards its relationship with Indonesia as a strategic and long-term relationship.

China claimed that part of Natuna waters is China's historic fishing ground included in the Nine Dash-line. However, Mahfud Md stated on Monday 6 January 2020, that the Indonesian government would not negotiate with the Chinese government regarding the Natuna waters issue.

"That there is no such thing as bargaining about sovereignty, about our country's territories," Jokowi stressed in a plenary cabinet meeting at the Merdeka Palace, Jakarta, Monday (1/6/2020).

Based on the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), Natuna waters are part of Indonesia's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Therefore, the government has refused to consider bilateral negotiations between Indonesia and China.