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Iran Press TV

Coast guard vessel not entered Indonesia waters: China

Iran Press TV

Mon Mar 21, 2016 10:21AM

China has denied that its coast guard vessel entered Indonesian waters, reiterating that Beijing respects Jakarta's sovereign rights.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Monday that the sovereignty of the Natuna islands "belongs to Indonesia" and that Beijing "has no objections to this."

Any maritime disputes should be resolved by talks, Hua said, adding that China also opposes illegal fishing.

Over the weekend, Indonesian authorities detained eight crew members of a Chinese boat, accusing them of illegally fishing in Indonesia's waters.

The authorities also attempted to confiscate the vessel but were stopped by a Chinese coast guard boat as it "intervened and rammed" the fishing ship back into the South China Sea, said Indonesia Minister of Fisheries and Maritime Affairs Susi Pudjiastuti.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry, however, disputed Indonesia's claims, saying the boat was attacked by an armed Indonesian ship as it was fishing in "traditional Chinese fishing grounds."

"The Chinese side immediately demanded the Indonesian side at once release the detained Chinese fishermen and ensure their personal safety," said the ministry.

After being summoned by the Indonesian fisheries minister, Chinese embassy official Sun Weide said that Beijing is "always ready to work with Indonesia to solve these disputes trough negotiations and dialogue" when it comes to fishery disputes or maritime issues.

China claims sovereignty over almost the entire South China Sea, which is also claimed in part by several Southeast Asian countries, including Taiwan, Brunei, Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines. The contested waters are believed to be rich in oil and gas.

The sovereignty of the Natuna islands and the seas around them, where the incident occurred, however, has not been a matter of dispute between China and Indonesia. Both Beijing and Jakarta accept the waters as part of Indonesia's Riau Province.

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