JAKARTA: China has demanded that Indonesia rescind a decision to rename its maritime area in the southwest part of South China Sea to North Natuna Sea.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry sent an official note to the Indonesian embassy in Beijing expressing its opposition to Jakarta’s Jul 14 move, when it unveiled a new official map of the national archipelago that revealed its renaming of the area.
In the letter dated Aug 25, seen by Channel NewsAsia, China said Indonesia’s move to change an “internationally accepted name” results in the “complication and expansion of the dispute, and affects peace and stability”.
“The China-Indonesian relationship is developing in a healthy and stable way, and the South China Sea dispute is progressing well,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry said. “Indonesia’s unilateral name-changing actions are not conducive to maintaining this excellent situation.”
Beijing also said China and Indonesia have overlapping maritime claims in the southwest of the South China Sea, and said that renaming the area will not change this fact.
Indonesia has never made any claim to parts of the South China Sea, disputed with China by Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam. But the waters it now calls the North Natuna Sea overlap with China’s unilaterally declared Nine-Dash Line, which takes in virtually all the South China Sea.
Indonesia’s move comes after the 2016 findings of the Permanent Court of Arbitration at the Hague in the Netherlands on the South China Sea dispute between China and the Philippines, which concluded that there is no legal or historical basis to China’s claim to the resource-rich waters.
In July, Indonesian Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Luhut Pandjaitan denied that Indonesia is renaming the South China Sea, as the northern waters off Indonesia’s Natuna archipelago are part of the country’s exclusive economic zone.