ASSESSMENTS

Indonesia Guards Its Front Door

MIN READJul 28, 2016 | 09:30 GMT

The Indonesian government blows up a foreign fishing vessel in its waters earlier this year. Indonesian authorities have confronted at least three Chinese fishing boats in 2016 near the country's remote and resource-rich Natuna Islands.

(SEI RATIFA/AFP/Getty Images)

At least three times this year, Indonesian authorities have confronted Chinese fishing vessels in the waters near the remote Natuna Islands, an area whose 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) overlaps China's expansive nine-dash line. Each time, Jakarta has made a point of widely publicizing the incursions despite Beijing's objections. In the wake of the run-ins, Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo visited the islands and promised to boost defense, fishing and natural gas production in the area. Despite its provocative fishing activities in the South China Sea, however, China is not the sole target of Indonesia's defensive measures; Jakarta has also made a public show of destroying dozens of Malaysian and Vietnamese vessels found fishing in the area. For Indonesia, protecting the Natuna Islands -- however small and remote they may be -- is key to exerting control of its territory and affirming its position in Asia's waterways. ...

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