Indonesia increases patrols in the South China Sea after spotting Chinese and US vessels near the Natuna Islands.

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Indonesia increases patrols in the South China Sea after spotting Chinese and US vessels near the Natuna Islands.

After apparently observing Chinese and US vessels nearby, Indonesia has increased air and naval patrols around its Natuna Islands in the South China Sea. This comes after allegations that a Chinese survey vessel was seen operating in the Tuna Block, a major oil and gas development in the area.

Jakarta, on the other hand, insisted that the ships were in international seas and that they “had not caused any disturbance,” according to Al Jazeera.

Arsyad Abdullah, the commander of the Indonesian Naval’s western fleet, told reporters last week that five navy warships had been deployed in the North Natuna Sea to safeguard the area, with the help of an air patrol.

“The Navy’s attitude on the North Natuna Sea is very solid in preserving national interests within Indonesian jurisdiction in line with national law and ratified international law, with no tolerance for any infractions in the North Natuna Sea,” Arsyad stated.

The Natuna Islands, now controlled by Indonesia, are located in the South China Sea’s northern parts of its exclusive economic zone. To resist China’s maritime territorial ambitions, Indonesia called the northern portions the North Natuna Sea in 2017.

The northern part of the Natuna Sea also overlaps with the so-called “nine-dash line” that China employs to assert its vast claims in the South China Sea, however China has not yet asserted claim to Natuna island. Since 1993, when Beijing produced a map showing Chinese “historic claims” on a gas field northeast of the islands, the islands have been a source of contention.

Despite the fact that no intrusions were reported this time, the country has seen several attempts by Chinese fishing vessels to penetrate its territorial seas. Fishing vessels are claimed to be used by Beijing to impose its authority over territories in the South China Sea.

Indonesia deployed civilian patrol vessels equipped with 30mm remote-controlled Stabilized Naval Gun Systems to monitor the area in January, in response to increased Chinese invasions.

Meanwhile, according to a report by Radio Free Asia based on ship tracking data, the Chinese survey vessel Haiyang Dizhi 10 operated last Friday in the Tuna Block of Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ). A day before, a Chinese coast guard vessel was also sighted nearby.

The Indonesian navy also sent two ships to the area to allegedly keep an eye on Haiyang Dizhi’s movements in the Tuna Block, a major oil and gas field in the North Natuna Sea. Beijing, according to Jakarta, has been meddling with its drilling activity. Brief News from Washington Newsday.

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