Chinese warship frees illegal fishing boat detained by Indonesia
A heavily armed Chinese patrol vessel on March 19 ordered a smaller Indonesian Navy vessel to free a Chinese fishing boat caught fishing illegally in the Natuna Sea, which is in the Indonesian Exclusive Economic Zone.
While Indonesian authorities were forced to escort the fishing boat outside their waters, local media reported that eight crew members of the fishing boat were detained and taken to Indonesia.
Infuriated by the act, the Indonesian ministry of foreign affairs sent a protest note to China.
Local media also reported that this was not the first this has happened as in March 2013 a similar incident occurred where Indonesian authorities were, again, forced to comply with Chinese due to the size and armament of the Chinese vessel.
The incident in Indonesia happened just five days after the Argentine Navy sank a Chinese boat fishing illegally in Argentine waters. The fishing boat refused to stop after being caught and reportedly even tried to ram an Argentine Navy vessel. The authorities then shot into different sections of the boat which caused it to sink.
To remind, China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea have caused tensions in the region as the state claims most of the territory.
U.S. Navy officials, in response to China’s militarization of the South China Sea, said they would conduct more operations in the contested region. The U.S. Navy patrols have previously caused tensions when Chinese officials claimed that U.S. Navy destroyers, USS Lassen and USS Curtis Wilbur, sailed within 12 nautical miles of Chinese artificially-built islands in the South China Sea.