The Indonesian government has rejected a verbal explanation conveyed by the Chinese government over what Indonesia considers a territorial violation committed by a Chinese fishing vessel and a Chinese coast guard boat that entered Natuna waters in Riau Islands last week.
Via a charge d'affaires at the Chinese Embassy in Jakarta in a meeting with Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi earlier this week, the Chinese government denied that the Chinese fishing vessel and the country's coast guard had violated Indonesian territory, claiming they had been in an area China calls its "traditional fishing zone".
"In a verbal communication conveyed by the charge d'affaires of the Chinese Embassy in Jakarta, they said the incident occurred in China's traditional fishing zone," Retno said at the Office of the Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister in Jakarta on Thursday.
The minister added she had explained to the Chinese representative that Indonesia did not recognise the so-called traditional fishing zone.
"In the meeting we asked: 'What does the traditional fishing zone mean?' to clarify the meaning of this terminology," said Retno.
"We don't recognise this terminology at all. And, based on what reasons could this terminology exist?" she went on.
Retno said she had asked the Chinese government to explain its traditional fishing zone claims in its response to a diplomatic protest note sent by the Indonesian government shortly after the Natuna incident.
In the protest note, Indonesia conveyed three points of objection to measures taken by the Chinese maritime security patrol, which Jakarta believes protected illegal fishing activities in Indonesian waters.
In the first point, the Indonesian government protested the Chinese maritime security vessels, which contravened Indonesia's sovereignty and jurisdiction over its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and continental shelf areas.
Second, Indonesia protested violations over law enforcement measures by Chinese authorities in the EEZ and continental shelf areas. Third, the Indonesian government protested violations committed by the Chinese maritime security boats against the sovereignty of Indonesia's maritime territories.
As previously reported, two Chinese vessels, namely fishing vessel MV Kway Fey and a coast guard vessel, were involved in an incident with an Indonesian patrol boat at around 2:15 p.m. local time on Saturday.
The incident began when the Indonesian patrol captured the MV Kway Fey in Natuna waters. The Chinese vessel was allegedly fishing illegally in Indonesia's ZEE.
The KP Hiu 11 patrol boat approached the fishing vessel and apprehended eight of its crew. The patrol officers were about to escort the MV Kway Fey from the scene when a Chinese coast guard boat approached and hit the fishing vessel. It was suspected that this was an attempt to prevent Indonesian authorities from confiscating the Chinese fishing vessel.
To avoid a conflict, the Indonesian patrol boat officers left the Kway Fey and returned to the KP Hiu 11 command with the eight arrested crewmembers from the fishing vessel.