Indonesia deploys four fighter jets in stand-off with China, Latest World News - The New Paper

Indonesia deploys four fighter jets in stand-off with China

This article is more than 12 months old

JAKARTA: Indonesia's air force deployed four fighter jets to the South China Sea yesterday in a stand-off with Beijing after Jakarta protested over a Chinese violation of its exclusive economic zone.

The stand-off began in mid-December when a Chinese coast guard vessel, accompanying Chinese fishing boats, entered waters off the coast of Indonesia's northern Natuna islands, prompting Jakarta to summon Beijing's ambassador.

The issue has soured Indonesia's generally friendly relationship with China, its biggest trading partner and a major investor in South-east Asia's largest country.


Colonel Fajar Adriyanto, the air force spokesman, said four F-16 jets had been conducting flights over the islands, though he also played down fears of any confrontation with Beijing.

"They are doing standard patrols to protect our sovereign area. It just so happened that they are patrolling Natuna," Col Adriyanto said.

"We don't have the order to start a war with China."

On Monday, Indonesia said it was mobilising fishermen to the northern Natuna region and had deployed several naval ships.

In an unusually strong statement, President Joko Widodo told reporters on Monday: "There is no negotiation when it comes to our sovereignty."

Indonesia's Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Mahfud MD, said around 120 fishermen from the island of Java would be sent to the Natuna islands.

"We want to mobilise our fishermen from the north coast and maybe in turn from other areas to operate by fishing there and other things," Mr Mahfud said.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said yesterday Beijing had "opened diplomatic channels" with Indonesia since the latest incident and "both countries shoulder responsibility for maintaining regional peace and stability".

Mr Luhut Pandjaitan, the Coordinating Maritime Affairs and Investment Minister, said yesterday that Indonesia's sovereignty was not negotiable, despite China's economic importance for his country.

"I would not sell our sovereignty for investment, never," he said.

"I'm not stupid." - REUTERS