SHANGHAI—An Indonesian navy vessel fired at foreign fishing trawlers in a confrontation in the South China Sea that resulted in the seizing of a Chinese ship and, Beijing said, injury to one fisherman.
An Indonesian warship on Friday fired warning shots after spotting 12 foreign vessels fishing in waters Indonesia claims as an exclusive economic zone, the Indonesian navy said Saturday. The navy caught one vessel that it identified as a Chinese flagged boat plus its crew of six men and a woman.
China’s Foreign Ministry, in a statement Sunday, decried “harassment” of Chinese fishing boats by Indonesian navy vessels and said the shots damaged one vessel and injured a crew member. It said a Chinese maritime-law-enforcement vessel was dispatched to the scene and that the injured man is now being treated on the Chinese island of Hainan.
Beijing said it lodged a protest with Indonesia over the incident in the southern South China Sea in waters around the Natuna Islands that it claims are its traditional fishing grounds and which it says overlap Indonesian claims.
The incident comes as Asian nations await the outcome of a United Nations-backed arbitration court in the Netherlands over a complaint from the Philippines against China’s sweeping territorial claims in the South China Sea. The ruling is expected in coming weeks.
Indonesia isn’t a claimant to seas within a nine-dash line that China says demarcates its maritime claims in the South China Sea. Indonesian President Joko Widodo has stepped up defense of waters Indonesia does claim in a bid to expand the country’s maritime presence with stronger patrols and in response to what he says is $20 billion of lost revenue annually from illegal fishing.
It has seized and then sunk foreign vessels and at least twice in recent months detained small numbers of Chinese fisherman it accuses of violating its territory. In a standoff in March, China’s coast guard prevented Indonesian authorities from detaining a Chinese fishing vessel.
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