Batam, Riau Islands (ANTARA) - Joint Defense Regional Commands (Kogabwilhan) Commander I Rear Adm. Yudo Margono made assurance of the Chinese coast guard and fishing vessels having departed from Indonesia's exclusive economic zone (EEZ) near Natuna waters, Riau Islands Province.

However, the maritime security operation in the Indonesian EEZ will be conducted round the clock during the year. Seven naval ships were deployed to support the routine patrols there, he notified journalists in Natuna District on Sunday.

"There is no time limit. The operation to safeguard our waters will be conducted during the year," he noted, adding that the Chinese vessels had exited the Indonesian EEZ by referring to reports of an aerial reconnaissance and naval ships' commanders.

While drawing reference to an aerial reconnaissance conducted by the Indonesian Air Force's reconnaissance aircraft at 2 p.m. local time, the Chinese vessels had already exited the Indonesian EEZ, Margono explained.

Reports on Chinese coast guard and fishing vessels no longer being visible near the Natuna waters were also backed by the commanders of the Indonesian naval ships that expelled the Chinese ships from the Indonesian EEZ, he stated.

Margono expressed keenness to bring to light this latest condition to rectify the information been circulated among members of the Indonesian public, he added.

On Saturday, three Indonesian naval ships still spotted several Chinese coast guard and fishing vessels in Indonesia's EEZ near Natuna waters.

The warships then drove the Chinese fishing boats out of the Indonesian EEZ when they were attempting to spread their fishing nets.

If the Chinese fishing vessels remain in the Indonesian EEZ, they will be apprehended and tried in court.

President Jokowi has instructed the Indonesian authorities to act sternly against those violating the Indonesian EEZ, Yudo Margono stated.

"Do not allow the relations between Indonesia and China to be disrupted by the Chinese fishing vessels' illegal activities," Margono noted in a press statement after joining an aerial reconnaissance of the Indonesian Air Force's reconnaissance aircraft on Saturday.

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Escorted by six Chinese coast guard vessels and a Chinese ship from its maritime surveillance agency, the Chinese fishing boats were found spreading their fishing nets for poaching.

In response to this situation, the Indonesian naval ships (KRI) Usman Harun-359, KRI Jhon Lie-358, and KRI Karel Satsuitubun-356 maneuvered in their efforts to expel the Chinese fishing vessels from the Indonesian EEZ.

Margono confirmed having ordered the commander of the Navy's First Fleet Command to communicate with those on board of the foreign vessels that violate the Indonesian EEZ rights near the Natuna waters.

For China's coast guard vessels escorting the Chinese fishing boats for poaching in the Indonesian EEZ, he expounded that the on-duty Indonesian officers had attempted to provide them an understanding of the principles of international law, including the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in 1982.

He pointed out that Indonesia and China had ratified the 1982 UNCLOS, so Beijing must implement and respect it.

On Wednesday, President Joko Widodo (Jokowi), in the company of several top military and civilian figures, had paid a visit to Natuna District to observe a fleet and meet fishermen amid China's ongoing violations in the Indonesian EEZ.

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 recent cabinet session at the State Palace.

Over these past four 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: Pradanna PT, Rahmad Nasution
Editor: Sri Haryati
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