Jakarta: A new challenge has come up for the Chinese efforts, to dominate the South China Sea region. Indonesia announced an increase in patrolling around the Natuna Islands, claimed by China as its territory. A few days ago, the Chinese ships intruded in the marine limits of the Natuna Islands and Indonesia issued a warning to China, by increasing the patrolling in the region, in retaliation.
With rapid developments in the Middle East, Chinese activities in the South China Sea are continuing. On 19th December, 63 fishing vessels and two patrol boats of China intruded into the Indonesian marine limits and sailed close to the Natuna Islands. Indonesia expressed annoyance over this intrusion by these Chinese fishing and patrol vessels and issued a summons to the Chinese Ambassador.
Indonesia alleged that China challenged its sovereignty with this intrusion by the fishing and patrol vessels. China, who initially denied the Indonesian allegations, finally accepted the sailing of the fishing and patrol vessels. But Xiao Qian, the Chinese Ambassador to Indonesia, claimed that the Chinese fishing and patrol vessels sailed near the Spratly islands, within the sovereign Chinese territory.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said that China had a sovereign right over the Natuna Islands. Shuang had claimed a few days ago, ‘As the Natuna islands lie in the Chinese marine limits, China has the sovereign right over the Natuna Islands. Therefore, Chinese ships have a right to sail near these islands.
Infuriated by this claim, Indonesia increased the deployment of patrol vessels in the marine limits of these islands, saying that it had the sovereign rights over these islands. Indonesia accused that the patrolling by the Chinese fishing and patrol vessels in completely illegal and inciting. At the same time, Indonesia warned that henceforth intrusion by the Chinese fishing and patrol vessels in its marine region, will not be tolerated.
China claims rights over 90% of the South China Sea region. For this, China has claimed rights over the marine region as well as airspaces of Taiwan, Vietnam, Philippines, Indonesia and Brunei. Vietnam and Philippines have bitterly opposed this Chinese claim. The Philippines has even approached the international court for this purpose.
The international court and the United States have sided with the Philippines and criticised China. But since the last few months, Philippines softened its stand regarding the South China Sea region. Therefore, China was once again taking aggressive steps in this region. In this scenario, the Indonesian opposition has created a new challenge for China. Meanwhile, along with Indonesia, Malaysia also has opposed that Chinese claims over the South China Sea.