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BerichtOnderwerp: Natuna Sea dispute a fishing issue: Indonesian Navy -    wo 23 maa 2016 - 6:56

The Jakarta Post, Wed, March 23 2016

The Indonesian Navy will intensify patrols on the Natuna Sea but are yet to increase its fleet in the territory, labeling the border dispute involving a Chinese coast guard vessel a ‘fishing issue’.

Navy chief of staff Adm. Ade Supandi said that the incident involving the Chinese coast guard vessel had not yet become a defense issue. China, as previously reported, forcibly rescued the Kway Fey, a fishing vessel that had been seized by Indonesian authorities and was being towed to Natuna Island.

"We only increase our fleet in accordance with escalation. As such, this is still a fishing dispute," he said on Tuesday as quoted by, adding that the Indonesian Navy would closely monitor the issue for signs of expansion.

However, Ade underlined the importance of there being separation between a conflict of national defense and a fishing dispute. "What we are facing now is [a dispute between] the Chinese coast guard and our coast guard," he added.

Ade said that there were currently five warships allocated to patrol the Natuna Sea, the South China Sea and the Karimata Strait. The Navy expect that a diplomatic approach shall be sufficient to settle the current dispute.

"It's not directed as a conflict, there is still diplomacy. This is not over yet, but hopefully it can be resolved," he said.

He stressed that the Navy could not immediately increase the number of warships without valid reason nor without the approval of the Indonesian Military (TNI) Commander.

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