Indonesian Navy Opens Fire on Chinese Fishing Vessel

Indonesian Navy corvette (file image courtesy Wim Kosten)

Published Jun 19, 2016 9:35 PM by Reuters

An Indonesian naval vessel fired on a Chinese fishing boat on Friday, injuring one person, China's foreign ministry said, the countries' third reported confrontation this year near a chain of islands as regional tensions mount in the South China Sea.

Indonesia's navy said it had fired warning shots at several boats with Chinese flags that it accused of fishing illegally near the Natuna Islands – but a spokesman told Reuters there had been no injuries.

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 parts of the Indonesian-ruled Natuna Islands within a "nine-dash line" that Beijing marks on maps to show its claim on the body of water.

China has said it does not dispute Indonesia's sovereignty over the Natuna Islands, although the statement said the area where the incident occurred is subject to overlapping interests.

The Indonesian warship damaged one Chinese fishing boat and detained another with seven people on board, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying said on the ministry website on Sunday.

Hua said the Chinese coast guard rescued the injured fisherman, who was transported to the southern Chinese island province of Hainan for treatment where his injuries were under control.

It was unclear from the statement whether Indonesia was still holding the vessel and those aboard.

Beijing had made official protests over the incident, the ministry said in its statement, and urged Indonesia not to take any more actions to complicate the situation. There have been two other encounters reported between Indonesian naval vessels and Chinese fishing boats near the islands this year.