Asia

Indonesia protests against Chinese 'breach of sovereignty'

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi talks to journalists during a press conference in Jakarta Image copyright EPA
Image caption Indonesia's Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said she protested to Chinese embassy officials

Indonesia has formally protested to China over what it says was an infringement of its waters.

On Saturday, an Indonesian patrol ship attempted to detain a Chinese fishing boat it says was fishing illegally in the Natuna Sea.

But it was prevented from doing so by the Chinese coastguard. Eight crew members of the fishing vessel Kway Fey were detained.

China claims most of the South China Sea where it has been building islands.

After meeting with Chinese embassy officials on Monday, Indonesia's Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said: "At the meeting we conveyed our strong protest (over)... the breach by the Chinese coastguard of Indonesia's sovereign rights."

China's acting charge d'affaires in Jakarta Sun Weide demanded the release of the crew, saying the incident occurred in "traditional Chinese fishing grounds".

Mr Sun told press "When it comes to fishery disputes, or maritime issues, China is always ready to work with Indonesia to solve these disputes trough negotiations and dialogue."

Unlike other South-east Asian countries, Indonesia is not involved in the territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

China accepts the Natuna islands and the seas around them belong to Indonesia, but the two sides have confronted one another there before, typically over illegal fishing.

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