Indonesian president plans to visit Natuna amid China's violations

Indonesian president plans to visit Natuna amid China's violations

The Indonesian president's advance team members met with Natuna District Head Hami Rizal along with members of the Regional Leadership Communication Forum (Forkopimda) for preparing for Jokowi's scheduled visit. (Antara Kepri/Cherman)

Batam, Riau Islands (ANTARA) - Indonesian President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) is scheduled to visit Natuna District in Riau Islands Province in the midst of China's ongoing violations in the Indonesian exclusive economic zone (EEZ) near the Natuna waters.

To this end, the president's advance team members had met with Natuna District Head Hami Rizal along with members of the Regional Leadership Communication Forum (Forkopimda) to prepare for Jokowi's scheduled visit.

Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Edhy Prabowo had arrived in Natuna on Tuesday. However, according to the president's advance team members, the exact date of Jokowi's visit had yet to be known.

Furthermore, all related parties have been making all necessary preparations for the president's visit since Tuesday. Several hotels in Natuna had been fully booked for VIP guests ahead of Jokowi's visit since early this week.

"The rooms for VIP guests have been fully booked," a cashier at Elmas Hotel remarked. Several other hotels too were booked to capacity.

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The Natuna waters have again drawn the attention of national and international media outlets after Chinese coast guard vessels and fishing boats repeatedly violated the Indonesian EEZ rights.

The Chinese vessels were found escorting tens of Chinese fishing boats to poach on Indonesia's EEZ near the Natuna waters on December 19 and December 24, 2019.

In response to these ongoing violations, President Jokowi was unequivocal in his declaration that Indonesia will not negotiate with any party over its sovereignty, particularly regarding the country's territory in the Natuna waters in Riau Islands.

"There is no negotiation regarding matters pertaining to sovereignty and our territory," the president remarked at the opening of a cabinet session at the State Palace on Monday.

Over these past few days, the Chinese fishing vessels have been trespassing into Indonesia's EEZ in the Natuna waters. The fishing vessels were escorted by the Chinese Coast Guard in the waters some 130 miles off Ranai waters, Natuna.

The Indonesian Navy has deployed eight warships to patrol and secure the waters.

President Jokowi also lauded all his aides' statement on the issue that mirrored Indonesia's steadfastness in defending its sovereignty.

In dealing with this issue, the Indonesian Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry is closely coordinating with the Coordinating Ministry for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs.

The ministry will make all-out efforts to fulfil whatever assignments are mandated to it in securing the Indonesian waters from foreign vessels fishing illegally, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Edhy Prabowo emphasized.

Regarding the recent violations by Chinese coast guard vessels in the Indonesian EEZ near the Natuna waters, the Indonesian Foreign Ministry had also protested by summoning China's ambassador in Jakarta.

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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