Indonesia strengthens its military presence in disputed maritime zone
UNTV News • January 8, 2020 • 623
Jakarta – Indonesia has strengthened its military presence in the South China Sea by deploying four warships in response to the presence of Chinese vessels in the area, triggering a diplomatic crisis between the two countries.
Defense commander, Yudo Margono, on Tuesday told local media Kompas that a fishing boat and two Chinese coast guards vessels remained in the waters near Natuna Islands, which Jakarta considers as its exclusive economic zone.
However, Beijing claims the islands as its own along with almost all of the South China Sea.
With these ships, the Indonesian armed forces have now deployed 10 military vessels in the area in the face of China’s apparent territorial ambitions.
Chinese fishing boats arrived in Natuna towards the end of December, prompting the Indonesian foreign ministry to summon the Chinese ambassador in Jakarta and send a diplomatic letter defending its territorial sovereignty.
“There is no negotiation when it comes to our sovereignty,” Indonesian president Joko Widodo had said during a Cabinet meeting on Monday.
Indonesia’s Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi issued a statement on Monday asking China to respect the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, to which it is a party.
Indonesia’s chief security minister, Mahfud MD, on his part, announced ending 120 fishing vessels to the disputed maritime region, which was named North Natuna Sea by Jakarta in 2017.
The dispute over the Natuna Islands dates back to 2016, when Indonesia decided to build military bases in the region following a series of conflicts with Chinese fishing boats.
Besides Indonesia, China is locked in sovereignty disputes over the South China Sea with the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.
Beijing stakes claim on nearly the entire South China Sea region, an area through which $5 billion worth of commercial traffic passes annually, and which boasts large fishing zones and is reportedly rich in oil and gas reserves. EFE-EPA
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is finalizing the repatriation of the remaining 11 Filipino seafarers stranded in Chinese waters onboard Ocean Star 86 since March 24.
The DFA and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) are already coordinating with the Philippine Embassy in China. OWWA said the seafarers will be able to return home by next week.
“Mayroon na po napipintong repatriation either this coming week or first week of October ng ating mga mahal na stranded seafarers sa China (Our stranded seafarers in China will be repatriated either this coming week or first week of October). We are now providing assistance to the seafarers,” according to OWWA administrator Hans Leo Cacdac.
Based on the information received by OWWA, the Ocean Star 86 is docked in the mainland and the Philippine Embassy in China has been providing assistance to the seafarers. AAC (with reports from Joan Nano)
MANILA, Philippines – Senator Risa Hontiveros urges the government to scrap all contracts with Chinese companies that are involved in constructions of military structures and other establishments in the West Philippine Sea.
This follows the move by the United States government to blacklist a total of 24 Chinese firms that are helping the Chinese military in establishing artificial islands and militarized the disputed territory in the South China Sea and China’s alleged missile launches in the island.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Locsin previously announced that he would recommend that the Philippine government cut business ties with Chinese companies if proven that they are involved in the militarization activities in the West Philippine Sea.
Hontiveros argued that it is alarming to know that the Philippine government is dealing with Chinese firms that destroy the country’s own territory.
The lady senator claimed that several subsidiaries of the China Communications Construction Company Limited that were among the companies the US government blacklisted, have existing Memorandum of Understanding with the Philippine government particularly in infrastructure projects in Manila, Davao City, Cebu and Clark in Pampanga.
Among these projects include:
Davao Coastline and Port Development Project
Manila Harbour Center Reclamation Project
Cebu International and Bulk Terminal Project
Additionally, the Chinese firm China Harbor Engineering Company has won the bidding in the construction of an access road to New Clark City.
Hontiveros said these projects must stop.
“Hindi pwedeng magpatuloy ang mga proyektong ito. [These projects must stop.] If we continue with these deals, it may be equivalent to giving up our territories,” Hontiveros said.
Meanwhile, the group Akbayan urges President Rodrigo Duterte to reveal to the public all Chinese-loaned contracts that his administration has entered into.
“A comprehensive debt audit of all Chinese loans is necessary to determine if these loan agreements are legitimate, don’t carry unjust conditionalities that could undermine our country’s sovereignty, territory, economy and security, and not the result of questionable transactions,” Akbayan Chairman Emeritus and former Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Commissioner Etta Rosales said.
Malacañang is yet to respond on the matter. MNP (with details from Harlene Delgado)
“We respect the sovereign rights of all nations, regardless of size, and seek to preserve peace and uphold freedom of the seas in a manner consistent with international law,” he added.
The US official specified restricting Chinese nationals who were “responsible for, or complicit in, either the large-scale reclamation, construction, or militarization of disputed outposts in the South China Sea or the PRC’s (People’s Republic of China) use of coercion against Southeast Asian claimants to inhibit their access to offshore resources.”
Pompeo further said that “These individuals will now be inadmissible into the United States, and their immediate family members may be subject to these visa restrictions as well.”
In addition, the Department of Commerce has added 24 PRC state-owned enterprises to the Entity List, including several subsidiaries of China Communications Construction Company (CCCC).
Likewise, workers of 24 People’s Republic of China (PRC) state-owned enterprises to the Entity List, including subsidiaries of China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) and their immediate family members are also not allowed to enter any US domain.
Pompeo said the United States will act until Beijing discontinues its coercive behavior in the South China Sea.
“We will continue to stand with allies and partners in resisting this destabilizing activity. continue to stand with allies and partners in resisting this destabilizing activity,” the official concluded.
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