Indonesian Navy says Natuna situation still safe

The Indonesian Navy said that the situation in the South China Sea, especially in Natuna regency, Riau Islands, is still secure especially considering that Indonesia is not a claimant in the sea dispute.

The Tanjung Pinang Naval Main Base (Lantamal) commander, Cmdr. Agus Heryana said recently that the factual condition in the South China Sea was always safe although there were efforts blowing it out of proportion.

"It is always depicted as being explosive although the navies deployed in the area are not operating aggresively," he said.

"The tensions are rising for claimant states in disputes with China, such as Brunei Darussalam, the Philippines and Vietnam. There is minimal tension between Indonesia and China."

Agus added, however, that the Navy headquarters had a policy to deploy its warships in the waters surrounding Natuna to safeguard the area.

"The warships are there to safeguard Indonesian territory, that's all. We deployed three warships there but not as a response to the situation or the that the issue of Natuna has become heated."

When asked about China's Nine-dotted-line claim, which includes Natuna, Agus said it was not a problem for Indonesia.

"It is OK for China to include it in its claim but as long as there is no endorsement by the United Nations, they cannot do anything," he said.

"They can claim it but it is not as straight forward as that."

The Navy will host the 2014 Komodo Multilateral Exercise involving 28 warships and 4,500 sailors from 18 countries, including China. The exercise will be held in Anambas, Batam and Natuna waters.