Jokowi Natuna-bound amid China's ongoing violations in Indonesia's EEZ

Jokowi Natuna-bound amid China's ongoing violations in Indonesia's EEZ

Indonesian President Joko Widodo (ANTARA PHOTO/Puspa Perwitasari)

Natuna, Riau Islands (ANTARA) - President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) left Halim Perdanakusuma Air Force Base, Jakarta, Wednesday, for Natuna, Riau Islands, to observe a fleet and meet fishermen amid China's ongoing violations in Indonesia's exclusive economic zone near Natuna waters.

The presidential aircraft took off from the air force base at around 7:35 a.m. local time and arrived at the Raden Sadjad airbase in Natuna District at about 9:10 a.m. local time.

The presidential entourage comprised several top military and civilian figures: Military (TNI) Commander Air Chief Marshall Hadi Tjahjanto, Presidential Chief of Staff General (retired) Moeldoko, Deputy Agrarian and Spatial Planning Minister Surya Tjandra, and Presidential spokesman Fadjroel Rahman.

As scheduled, President Jokowi and his entourage headed straight to Selat Tampa's integrated maritime and fisheries center where he observed a fleet and met with several hundred fishermen. The president continued his program at the Natuna District Office to distribute land certificates.

After completing all programs, the president is scheduled to reach the Raden Sadjad Airbase to return to Jakarta.

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 in 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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