Jueves, 15 Noviembre, 2018

Indonesia Asserts Sovereignty by Renaming Portion of South China Sea

Indonesian Presidential Office Indonesian President Joko Widodo third right accompanied Indonesian Presidential Office Indonesian President Joko Widodo third right accompanied
Irune Rengel | 16 Julio, 2017, 01:24

Indonesia has renamed the northern reaches of its exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea as the North Natuna Sea, the latest act of resistance to China's territorial ambitions in the maritime region.

Part of the renamed sea is claimed by China under its contentious maritime boundary, known as the "nine-dash line", that encompasses most of the resource-rich sea. Drilling for oil and natural gas on the Reed Bank in the South China Sea may resume before the end of the year, a Philippine energy official said on Wednesday, as the government prepares to offer new blocks to investors in bidding in December.

At the heart of these disputes are a series of barren islands in two groups - the Spratly Islands, off the coast of the Philippines, and the Paracel Islands, off the coasts of Vietnam and China. The Philippines won the case in the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague one year ago.

However, the Philippines lately has become more assertive about its sovereignty. China, which had refused to participate in the proceedings, responded by calling the ruling a farce.

Philippine Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez shares a light moment with other participants after a group
Philippine Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez shares a light moment with other participants after a group

The official announcement from the Ministry of Maritime Affairs said the name change was meant to promote "clarity and similarity", particularly among oil and gas explorers, who have been referring to the region with several different variations of the "Natuna" nomenclature.

Indonesia insists it is a non-claimant in the South China Sea dispute, but has butted heads with China over a standoff involving a Chinese trawler that Indonesia stated was in its fishing waters.

"We need to continue updating the naming of the sea and report to the United Nations about the borders", Oegroseno told Indonesia's state-run news agency Antara.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said he wasn't aware of the details of Indonesia's decision, but reiterated his country's territorial claims to the South China Sea.

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"Certain countries' so-called renaming is totally meaningless", he told a daily news briefing.

"We hope relevant country can work with China for the shared goal and jointly uphold the current hard-won sound situation in the South China Sea", he said.

I Made Andi Arsana, an expert on the Law of the Sea from Indonesia's Universitas Gadjah Mada, said the renaming carried no legal force but was a political and diplomatic statement.

"It will send a clear message, both to the Indonesian people and diplomatically speaking".

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"This will be noticed in Beijing", Euan Graham of the Lowy Institute predicted of Indonesia's bid for sovereignty in the region.

Indonesia is not the only country along the margins of the South China Sea to defy Beijing's claims in recent days.

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