Diplomatic relations between Indonesia and China face another challenge as reports suggest that the Indonesian navy fired at an illegal Chinese fishing boat near the Natuna Islands in the South China Sea on Saturday (18/06). According to Chinese sources the incident injured one Chinese fisherman, while Indonesian sources claim there had been no injuries. The waters in the South China Sea are claimed by China, while Indonesia considers these waters part of its exclusive economic zone.
A statement released by the Indonesian government on Sunday (19/06) informed that the Indonesian navy had intercepted a Chinese vessel that was caught fishing illegally in Indonesian territory off the Natuna Islands one day earlier. Its seven crew members were detained.
A statement from China's government, on the other hand, added that the Indonesian navy had fired warning shots at a Chinese vessel, injuring one Chinese fisherman and damaging the boat, in waters that are regarded traditional fishing grounds of China.
There have been ongoing territorial disputes among East and Southeast Asian nations regarding the South China Sea as China claims nearly the entire area (its so-called "nine-dash line"). So far, Indonesia managed to stay relatively outside these debates. However, Southeast Asia's largest economy showed several times that it objects to the inclusion of the waters near Indonesia's Natuna Islands into the region that is labelled China's traditional fishing waters.
The incident over the weekend was the third Indonesia-China fishing incident that has occurred since March. After Joko Widodo became Indonesian president in late-2014 Indonesia has shown a tougher stance toward foreigners fishing illegally in Indonesian waters.