Indonesia to summon Chinese envoy after boat confrontation

A Chinese Coast Guard vessel sailing on May 13, 2014

Indonesia will summon the Chinese envoy in Jakarta after a confrontation between vessels from the two countries in the South China Sea, a minister said Sunday. The incident happened Saturday when surveillance vessels chased and caught a Chinese fishing boat allegedly operating in waters near the Indonesian Natuna Islands without a permit, Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti said. As the Chinese fishing boat was being towed away by the Indonesians, a Chinese coast guard vessel approached and collided with the fishing boat. A bigger Chinese coast guard vessel approached later and the Indonesians decided to leave the fishing boat, she said. "We respect a big country like China, and China should also respect the sovereignty of Indonesia and respect that we are at war with illegal fishing," Pudjiastuti told reporters. She urged the foreign ministry in Jakarta to lodge a "strong protest" over the "arrogance" of the Chinese vessels. The fisheries ministry will summon the Chinese envoy in Jakarta, the minister's spokeswoman confirmed to AFP. A foreign ministry official in Jakarta, Edi Yusuf, told AFP the ministry would also summon the Chinese envoy once it received more details of the incident. The Chinese ambassador is currently out of town so the charge d'affaires will be summoned, Yusuf added. Pudjiastuti said she believed the Chinese coastguards stopped the boat from being towed away to prevent it from being sunk. Since taking up her position as fisheries minister in 2014, Pudjiastuti has launched a crackdown on illegal fishing, blowing up and sinking numerous impounded empty foreign vessels caught fishing without a permit. Beijing voiced concern last year after Indonesia destroyed an impounded Chinese fishing vessel. Indonesia does not have overlapping territorial claims with Beijing in the hotly contested South China Sea, unlike several other Asian nations. But Jakarta has objected to China's nine-dash line -- the demarcation Beijing uses on maps to demonstrate its claim to almost the whole of the sea. This is because the line overlaps with Indonesia's exclusive economic zone around Natuna, a string of islands rich in fish on the far northwest fringe of the archipelago.