• Indonesian navy opened fire on a Chinese fishing boat operating within its EEZ
  • It also captured and detained the boat and the fishermen
  • Indonesian officials vowed to continue protecting its sovereignty from criminals
  • China protested the incident, said the area is a “traditional Chinese fishing ground”

In the latest round of tensions between China and its Southeast Asian neighbors, island nation Indonesia confirmed its navy shot a Chinese fishing boat it said was illegally operating within its 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) last Friday, June 17.

Indonesian warships opened fire and subsequently captured the Chinese-flagged ship off its Natuna Islands. According to authorities, no Chinese sailors were harmed in the incident.

“Like the previous incidents, the Chinese ships were fishing in the area that we claim is part of our EEZ,” the New York Times quoted Atmadji Sumarkidjo, Coordinating Ministry for Political, Legal and Security Affairs spokesman as saying.

“The navy pursued them, and they tried to run away and did not obey our instructions to stop,” he added.

 While China does not dispute ownership of the islands, its so-called 9-Dash Line overlaps with Indonesia’s EEZ; creating tension between the two.

Indonesian officials vowed to continue safeguarding their country’s territory; with President Joko Widodo ordering his defense chief Security Minister Luhut Panjaitan to shore up their maritime defenses even further.

Fisheries Minister Susi Pdujiastuti also praised the Indonesian navy; saying they did the right thing by protecting their territory from criminal trespassers who steal fish from their waters.

In response, China condemned Indonesia’s use of force as excessive and insisted the area was its “traditional Chinese fishing ground”.

“China strongly protests and condemns such excessive use of force,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said.  “China urges Indonesia to stop taking action that escalates tension, complicates issues or affects peace and stability.”