London: Indonesia has refused China’s demands of releasing eight of its fishermen arrested for illegal fishing in its territorial waters and said that they would be prosecuted.
Tensions between both nations flared up after an Indonesian Fisheries Ministry patrol ship intercepted the Chinese fishing vessel off the Natuna islands, which overlap the southernmost reaches of the South China Sea last Saturday.
When the Indonesian Maritime and Fisheries Monitoring Task Force apprehended a Chinese boat, the Chinese coast guard vessel forcibly rescued the trawler by pushing it back into Chinese waters.
Security Minister Luhut Pandjaitan has said that eight detained Chinese crew would be prosecuted, reports the Guardian.
Pandjaitan added that Indonesia would deploy more troops and better-equipped patrol boats in Natuna, adding it would strengthen the naval base with a modern defence system.
Indonesia has said China’s action had created a new ball game that south-east Asian countries needed to follow closely.
Arif Havas Oegroseno, the government official in charge of maritime security has said that China’s claim of traditional fishing grounds was not recognised under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
Oegroseno added that Chinese move was an indirect violation of the collision regulation convention published by the International Maritime Organization.
Indonesis is concerned that China asserts enlarging its territory to include the Natuna islands, which lies between the north-western tip of Indonesia’s Borneo Island and the southern tip of Vietnam consisting of about 270 islands.
China’s claims to most of the South China Sea has raised tension among it neighbours who claim the same. (ANI)