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Indonesia says China’s ‘nine-dash line’ puts its interests at risk

Indonesia’s economic interests are jeopardised by China’s territorial claim covering most of the South China Sea, its foreign minister said on June 4, explaining a letter Jakarta sent recently to the UN.

“China’s claims potentially affect Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone,” Retno Marsudi said at a virtual news conference. “The Indonesian government remains consistent in its position.”

Indonesia’s letter, dated May 26, says that China’s “nine-dash line” demarcation for the sea lacks a basis in international law, citing the 2016 decision by a Hague tribunal. The text also rejects Beijing’s historical claims on the area.

Unlike with the Philippines, Vietnam or Malaysia, Indonesian territorial claims in the South China Sea do not directly conflict with China’s. But the exclusive economic zone around Indonesia’s Natuna archipelago overlaps with the nine-dash line. Chinese fishing boats have repeatedly operated in the area.

This article is from the Nikkei Asian Review, a global publication with a uniquely Asian perspective on politics, the economy, business and international affairs. Our own correspondents and outside commentators from around the world share their views on Asia, while our Asia300 section provides in-depth coverage of 300 of the biggest and fastest-growing listed companies from 11 economies outside Japan.

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Indonesia’s statement follows China’s recent attempts to strengthen its influence over the body of water while the world copes with the novel coronavirus pandemic. Beijing established new administrative districts in the South China Sea in April, and the Chinese navy deployed its aircraft carrier Liaoning and other vessels in the area for military exercises.

Indonesian public sentiment toward China reportedly has worsened. Last month, it was revealed that the remains of several Indonesian nationals had been cast off Chinese fishing ships into the ocean. The deceased apparently died from overwork.

version of this article was first published on June 5 by the Nikkei Asian Review. ©2020 Nikkei Inc. All rights reserved.

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