Indonesian MP: China now demanding Indonesia to stop oil drilling in disputed waters

An Indonesian Naval cadets uses binoculars as he monitors the signal from the KRI Diponegoro-365 during a joint excercise on guarding Indonesia's borders, in the North Natuna sea, Riau islands, Indonesia, October 1, 2021, in this photo taken October 1, 2021 by Antara Foto. - Reuters

JAKARTA, Dec 1 (dpa): China demanded Indonesia stop oil-drilling activities in a diplomatic note on the grounds they were taking place in an area Beijing claims as part of its historic rights, an Indonesian lawmaker said on Wednesday.

China's protest note was sent several months ago as its research ship was criss-crossing a section of the South China Sea which Indonesia says is part of its exclusive economic zone off the Natuna Islands.

"Their [China's] argument was that the drilling location encroached on the Nine-Dash Line," legislator Muhammad Farhan said, referring to the line used by China for its claim to most of the South China Sea.

"Of course the Indonesian government rejected that [claim] because we stick to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea," he said.

Indonesia does not see itself as a party to the South China Sea dispute but has overlapping claims of maritime rights with China in waters off the Natuna Islands.

Indonesian and Chinese vessels have had several stand-offs in waters on the southern reaches of the South China Sea.

In 2017, Indonesia renamed the area North Natuna Sea, sparking a protest from China, which maintains that it is its traditional fishing ground.

An Indonesian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Teuku Faizasyah, declined to comment on the revelation by Farhan, saying that diplomatic notes are confidential. - dpa

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