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China Protests with Indonesia, Asked to Stop Oil and Gas Drilling in Natuna

No need to be afraid, DPR: We must be ready for all possibilities

    The Chinese government asked Indonesia to stop drilling for oil and natural gas in the maritime area near Natuna. As reported by Reuters, Four people familiar with the matter reported an unprecedented and unreported request.

the House of Representatives (DPR) of the Republic of Indonesia

    According to the statement of a member of the National Security Commission of the House of Representatives (DPR) of the Republic of Indonesia, Muhammad Farhan, one a letter from a Chinese diplomat to the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs clearly told Indonesia to stop drilling on the offshore rig temporarily, because it was happening on Chinese territory.

"Our answer is very firm, that we will NOT STOP DRILLING because it is our sovereign right," Farhan told Reuters.

    A spokesman for Indonesia's foreign ministry said every diplomatic communication between countries is private and its content cannot be shared. He also declined to comment further. Three other sources who claim to have been briefed on the matter confirmed the letter exists. Two of them said China had repeatedly demanded that Indonesia stop drilling.

ZEE NATUNA INDONESIA

    Indonesia says the southern tip of the South China Sea is Indonesia's Exclusive Economic Zone under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and named the area the North Natuna Sea in 2017.

    China objected to the name change and insisted that the waterway falls within China's vast territorial claims in the South China Sea which are marked by a U-shaped "nine-dash line".

    This is a line found to have NO LEGAL BASIS by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague in 2016. The letter is a bit "THREATING" because it is the first attempt by Chinese diplomats to push China's nine-dash line agenda towards Indonesian rights under the Law of the Sea.

    In a separate letter, China also protested against the mostly ground-based military exercise Garuda Shield in August. The exercise involves 4,500 troops from the United States and Indonesia and has been a regular event since 2009. It was China's first protest against Indonesia and the United States.

    Meanwhile, Member of Commission I of the Indonesian House of Representatives, Dave Laksono, asked the Indonesian government not to be afraid of China's protests through a diplomatic note that demanded a halt to oil and gas drilling in the North Natuna Sea area. 

    In fact, said Dave Laksono, Indonesia must prepare to anticipate all possibilities. Including the possibility of China taking the diplomatic note to the International Court of Arbitration.

"If the Chinese government takes this matter to the arbitral tribunal, we must also be ready to face this possibility and prepare all related matters," said Dave Laksono to the RMOL Political News Agency, Wednesday (1/Dec).

    The legislator said, in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea or UNCLOS, North Natuna is an Indonesian Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). As the owner of the territory, Indonesia does not need to be afraid, let alone stop drilling for oil as the management of state-owned natural resources.

"That the area is the sovereignty of Indonesia, then we have the right to carry out drilling activities in the area," he said.

    A report from Reuters on Wednesday (1/Dec) revealed that China had sent a diplomatic note to the foreign ministry.

“I cannot confirm the content of the news (reports Reuters). Moreover, diplomatic communication, including through diplomatic notes, is closed," said the spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Teuku Faizasyah.

Duta Masyarakat, Page-1, Thursday, Dec 2, 2021

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