• The Financial District


Indonesia will increase maritime security operations near some of its islands in the South China Sea after a Chinese Coast Guard vessel was spotted nearby, raising suspicions about its intentions, a senior security official said on Tuesday, Agustinus Beo Da Costa reported for Reuters.

The vessel entered Indonesia’s 200-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) off the northern Natuna islands on Saturday and left on Monday after radio challenges over jurisdiction, Aan Kurnia, chief of the maritime security agency, Bakamla, told Reuters.

Under international law, innocent passage is permitted through another country’s EEZ, but Aan said the vessel was lingering too long. “Because this one floated, then went circling, we became suspicious, we approached it and learned that it was a Chinese coastguard vessel.” While China has made no claim to the archipelago, the presence of its coast guard so far from the mainland has concerned Indonesia, aware of numerous encounters that Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam have had with Chinese vessels inside their EEZs, which have disrupted fishing and energy activities.

A weeks-long standoff occurred in December and January when a Chinese coastguard vessel and accompanying fishing boats entered the northern Natuna Sea, prompting Indonesia to send fighter jets and mobilize its own fishermen and forcing it to complain that China may soon claim the entire Pacific Ocean as its territorial waters. China said the ship was patrolling normally in waters under its jurisdiction. China’s rights and interests in relevant waters are clear, Wang Wenbin, the spokesman with China’s foreign ministry, told a news briefing.

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