Chinese ships leave disputed waters after Indonesia deploys 4 warships and F-16 fighter jets
Chinese fishing and coastguard ships have vacated waters off Indonesia’s Natuna islands after President Joko Widodo vowed to enforce his country’s maritime rights during a visit to the area, the military said on Thursday.
Indonesia deployed four F-16 fighter jets and four warships after dozens of Chinese vessels refused to leave the country’s exclusive economic zone off the islets in the disputed south of the South China Sea.
“From our aerial observation, no Chinese fishing vessels were visible in Natuna waters,” Indonesian Armed Forces spokesman Sisriadi said.
“Our ships will still be there, while we are assessing the situation,” said Sisriadi, who goes by one name.
Joko inspected warships and a local air force base during a visit to the Natunas on Wednesday.
He described Indonesia’s sovereignty in waters off the Natunas as “non-negotiable” after China insisted that its fishermen had legitimate rights to operate in the area.
Indonesia summoned the Chinese ambassador in Jakarta late last month after the country accused 65 Chinese fishing and coastguard vessels of encroaching on its exclusive economic zone. According to the UN, a country’s exclusive economic zone extends up to 200 nautical miles from a nation’s coastal baseline.
The Indonesian president said he was told by the military that the Chinese ships were not sailing in Jakarta’s territorial sea, which extends 12 nautical miles from the baseline.
Indonesia has said that China’s claims that the area is historically part of its fishing grounds has no legal basis under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
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