JAKARTA (Reuters) – Indonesia’s foreign minister on Wednesday rejected China’s stance that the two Asian nations have overlapping claims in the South China Sea, where there has been a run of skirmishes between Indonesian navy ships and Chinese vessels.
China’s Foreign Ministry on Monday said the two nations do not have any territorial disputes but there were some overlapping claims on “maritime rights and interests.”
“Our position is clear that claims can only be made on the basis of international law. For Indonesia, we don’t have overlapping claims in any form in Indonesian waters with China,” Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi told reporters when asked for reaction to China’s statement.
Indonesia is not part of a broader regional dispute over China’s reclamation activities in the South China Sea and Beijing’s claims on swathes of key waterways.
But Jakarta has objected to China’s inclusion of waters around the Indonesian-ruled Natuna Islands within a “nine-dash line” Beijing marks on maps to show its claim on the body of water.
China’s Foreign Ministry said over the weekend that an Indonesian naval vessel fired on a Chinese fishing boat near the chain of islands on Friday, injuring one person.
Indonesia’s navy responded that it had fired warning shots at several boats with Chinese flags it accused of fishing illegally but there were no injuries.
It was the third reported confrontation near the Natuna Islands this year and comes amid rising regional tensions over China’s assertiveness in the South China Sea.
Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla told Reuters on Monday the Southeast Asian nation would be more assertive in protecting its exclusive right to the waters around the Natuna Islands.
Despite this more assertive stance, Retno said relations between the two countries remained good.
“This is a matter of law enforcement, not politics,” she said.
(Reporting by Agustinus Beo Da Costa and Kanupriya Kapoor; Writing by Randy Fabi; Editing by Michael Perry)