South China Sea: Chinese ships force their way into Indonesian waters

Chinese president  Xi Jinping, a Chinese coastguard vvessel and Indomnesian president Joko Widodo.
Chinese president Xi Jinping, a Chinese coastguard vvessel and Indomnesian president Joko Widodo. Photo credit: Getty/AP

Indonesia has mobilised its military after Chinese fishing boats flanked by coastguard warships forced their way into its territory. 

Six Indonesian vessels have been deployed to the Natuna archipelago in the South China Sea where the Chinese incursions began late last year. Four more ships are expected to follow. 

"We are not only deploying ships, but also fighter jets. We are on full alert," Indonesian military spokesperson major general Sisriadi is quoted as saying in media reports.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said last week the ship's activities were "routine".

"The China Coast Guard were performing their duty by carrying out routine patrols to maintain maritime order and protect our people's legitimate rights and interests in the relevant waters."

Their mission was to assert Chinese ownership over the nearby Spratly Islands.

The islands are in a territorial dispute between China, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam.

Shuang said China would welcome "bilateral dialogue" with Jakarta to manage the dispute, reports The Independent.

But Indonesia says negotiation is not part of its plan.

"There is no negotiation when it comes to our sovereignty," Indonesian president Joko Widodo told reporters.

Indonesia's chief security minister for political, legal and security affairs Mahfud MD also rejected the idea of talks, telling media on Sunday Indonesia will "never" negotiate.

"In regard to the incident involving Chinese fishing boats who were guarded by the Chinese government ships, in principle, Indonesia will never negotiate with China," said Mahfud.

Mahfud also slammed the idea that China had ownership of the Spratly Islands.

"China has no rights to claim the area," Minister Mahfud said yesterday. 

"If we negotiated with them, it would imply that we recognise a territorial dispute. There is no dispute as Indonesia is the legitimate owner of the whole area."