Malang, E Java (ANTARA) - Indonesia will defend its sovereignty and will not negotiate with China in connection with the issues of Natuna waters, Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs Mahfud MD said.

Referring to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the waters near the Natuna Islands belong to Indonesia's exclusive economic zone (EEZ) rights so that this matter need not bilaterally be negotiated, he said here on Sunday.

Speaking to journalists after attending the commemoration of Brawijaya University's 57th anniversary, he said the Natuna waters definitely belongs to Indonesia so that a negotiation is not needed.

If the Indonesian Government puts this matter on the negotiation table, it means that Jakarta indirectly admits that there is a dispute between the two countries regarding the Natuna waters, he added.

Regarding the recent violations of Chinese coast guard vessels in the Indonesian EEZ near the Natuna waters, the Indonesian Foreign Ministry has lodged a diplomatic protest by summoning China's ambassador in Jakarta.

Coordinating Maritime Affairs and Investment Minister Luhut Pandjaitan has proposed the purchase of ocean going vessels to strengthen Indonesia's capability of safeguarding its territorial waters and EEZ rights from the violations of foreign ships.

"I have propose 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 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.

Pandjaitan further 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.

In response to this 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.

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 need 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.
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Translator: Vicky F, Rahmad Nasution
Editor: Suharto
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