I have proposed the purchase of these ocean going vessels. We have never possessed such ships since the existence of this Republic
Jakarta (ANTARA) - Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Pandjaitan has proposed the purchase of ocean going vessels to strengthen Indonesia's capability of safeguarding its territorial waters and exclusive economic zone (EEZ) rights from violations by foreign ships.

"I have proposed the purchase of these ocean going vessels. We have never possessed such ships since the existence of this Republic," he told journalists following his meeting with Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto who visited his office here on Friday.

Pandjaitan proposed the purchase of those ocean going ships amid the recent violations of Chinese coast guard vessels escorting tens of Chinese fishing boats to poach on Indonesia's EEZ near the Natuna waters on Dec 19 and Dec 24, 2019.

This incident has made the Indonesian Foreign Ministry lodge a diplomatic protest by summoning China's ambassador in Jakarta.

Pandjaitan said the government has agreed to have more patrol vessels to secure the country's maritime boundary, and Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto is willing to purchase the 138 up to 140-meter-long frigates.

Regarding China's recent violations in the Indonesian EEZ, he said the case need not be exaggerated because, in fact, Indonesia's capability of conducting regular patrols in its EEZ remains limited.

At present, Indonesia's Maritime Security Agency (Bakamla) was still in a process of being empowered to enable it to become a real powerful coast guard, he said, adding that intensifying patrols in Indonesia's EEZ is needed, and the Chinese violations should be taken as a momentum for a self-reflection.

In response to China's recent violations in the Indonesian EEZ, the University of Indonesia's international law expert, Hikmahanto Juwana, told ANTARA that Indonesia rejects China's claim of having traditional fishing rights on the North Natuna Sea.

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According to Juwana, the Indonesian Government must have one voice in addressing this issue as represented by Foreign Minister Retno L.P. Marsudi. At the same time, the government needs also intensify regular patrols on the North Natuna Sea, and enforce law against the violations of foreign vessels.

"Our intensive patrols are also aimed at protecting our fishermen's fishing boats from being disturbed by the Chinese coast guard vessels," he said, adding that a negotiation with China regarding the issues of North Natuna Sea is totally unnecessary.

Over these past three years, the Chinese coast guard vessels have repeatedly violated Indonesia's EEZ rights.

In March 2016, Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno L.P. Marsudi had also lodged a protest with the Chinese Charge d'affaires in Jakarta Sun Weide over Chinese coast guard violations in the Indonesian waters.

At that time, Minister Marsudi revealed that the protest note addressed to the Chinese Embassy contained at least three main points.

First, the Indonesian Government had objected to the violations committed by the Chinese coast guard against the country's sovereign rights and jurisdiction in the EEZ and continental shelf.

Second, the Indonesian Government raised a protest on the violation by the Chinese coast guard against its law enforcement agencies on the EEZ and continental shelf.

Third, the Indonesian Government protested to the violation committed by the Chinese coast guard on its marine territorial sovereignty.

The minister said the Indonesian government had sought clarification from the Chinese government over the incident.

Marsudi also stressed that as part of sound state relations, each country must respect the principles of international law, including the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in 1982.

She also emphasized that Indonesia is not a claimant state in the South China Sea and not a claimant state in the South China Sea dispute.

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Translator: Ade Irma J, Rahmad Nasution
Editor: Fardah Assegaf
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