China and Indonesia set to CLASH as tensions over South China Sea ESCALATE

Saturday, February 23, 2019
By Paul Martin

INDONESIA plans to assert its authority over the South China Sea in a move that is likely to antagonise china and escalate the dispute over the hotly contested area of the Pacific Ocean.

By EMILY FERGUSON
Express.co.uk
Sat, Feb 23, 2019

Indonesia is set to clash with China after the Republic plans to assert its authority over the South China Sea by developing lucrative fishing grounds in the waters. China claims almost all of the South China Sea and frequently criticises the US and its allies over naval operations near Chinese-occupied islands. Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan all have competing claims for territory in the region.

On Friday, Luhut Pandjaitan, Indonesia’s Coordination Minister for Maritime Affairs said the Natuna Islands on the edge of the South China Sea would be developed into a fishing hub, the Jakarta Post reports.

The waters off the island are rich in gas and fish stocks and the Indonesian Government plans to build cold-storage facilities and use satellites and drones to help Indonesian fishing vessels operating in the surrounding waters.

The hub is set to be operational by the end of the year.

China and Indonesia have previously clashed over the waters around the Natuna Islands.

Mr Pandjaitan said: “We would also be providing refuelling tankers for our fishing boats… so no one can claim that [the area is their] traditional fishing zone.”

Indonesia has embarked on an aggressive campaign to curb illegal fishing over the past few years, seizing hundreds of foreign vessels – even blowing up some in public displays.

The Republic declared the issue as an “international problem” that “requires cross border cooperation” at a UN Ocean Conference in 2017.

Earlier in the month the US Navy sent two guided-missile destroyers close to the location of several territorial conflict zones in the South China Sea.

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