Indonesia sends warship to North Natuna Sea to monitor Chinese coast guard vessel

Indonesia has deployed a warship to its North Natuna Sea to monitor a Chinese coast guard vessel that has been active in a resource-rich maritime area, the country’s naval chief said on Saturday in an area both countries consider their own

Vessel tracking data shows that the vessel, CCG 5901, has been sailing in the Natuna Sea, especially near the Tuna Bloc gas field and the Vietnamese oil and gas field Chim Sao since Dec. 30, he said in Reuters the Indonesia Ocean Justice Initiative.

A warship, a maritime patrol plane and a drone had been deployed to monitor the ship, Laksamana Muhammad Ali, the head of Indonesia’s navy, told Reuters.

“The Chinese vessel has not carried out any suspicious activity,” he said. “However, we need to control it as it has been in Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) for some time now.”

A spokesman for the Chinese embassy in Jakarta was not immediately available for comment.

The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) grants ships navigation rights through an EEZ.

The activity comes after an EEZ agreement between Indonesia and Vietnam, and Indonesia’s approval to develop the Tuna gas field in the Natuna Sea, with an estimated total investment of more than $3 billion by ‘beginning of production.

In 2021, ships from Indonesia and China shadowed for months near a submersible oil rig that had been conducting well assessments in the Tuna block.

China then urged Indonesia to stop drilling, saying the activities were happening on its territory.

Southeast Asia’s largest nation says that under UNCLOS, the southern tip of the South China Sea is its exclusive economic zone, naming the area the North Natuna Sea in 2017.

China rejects this, saying the maritime zone lies within its extensive territorial claim in the South China Sea marked by a U-shaped “nine-dash line,” a boundary that the Permanent Court of Arbitration of The Hague found it to have no legal basis in 2016. . .

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