Indonesia vows to continue sea crackdown despite row with China

Indonesia will not relent in its crackdown on illegal fishing, the country’s foreign minister said, after China protested the shooting at its fishing boats by the Indonesian navy.

Indonesian officials said its navy personnel seized seven people from a Chinese boat it accused of illegally fishing in the country’s waters off the Natuna Islands on Friday.

They said naval warships fired shots after several Chinese fishing trawlers tried to flee when approached, in the third such incident in the area in recent months.

A Chinese crew member from another boat was injured, China said. It condemned the Indonesian navy’s “excessive use of force.”

“If faced with the same situation, Indonesia will do the same thing,” Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said on Metro TV late Monday.

“The area is part of our exclusive economic zone and we have no overlapping claims with China whatsoever,” she said.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Arrmanatha Natsir said none of the arrested Chinese fishermen was injured.

Two tons of fish were seized from them, he said.

The Indonesian navy has vowed to take firm action against foreign ships stealing fish in Indonesian waters.

Tensions between China and its neighbours have risen as China has sought to assert its control in the face of competing territorial claims from countries in the region.

China claims most of the South China Sea, which includes overlapping claims with Vietnam, Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei.

Several Chinese military deployments to the region have been reported in recent months, while the United States has sent naval ships to conduct freedom of navigation operations through the Spratlys, where China has reclaimed land for island-building.

Washington takes no official position over the competing claims, but says the issue should be resolved diplomatically and asserts the US right to freedom of the seas.

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