Indonesia said Monday it will summon a Chinese ambassador over the alleged intervention of China's coast guards as Indonesian officials were capturing a Chinese boat it said was fishing illegally in its waters. Indonesian officials arrested eight crew members of a Chinese boat Saturday, but reportedly claim they had a stand-off with Chinese coast guard vessels.
Indonesian officials said Saturday's incident occurred just over 4 kms off Indonesia's Natuna islands, wherein Indonesian officials chased the Chinese fishing boat Kway Fey and arrested the crew. However, a Chinese coast guard ship allegedly rammed the boat to push back into the South China Sea, while another Chinese ship asked the Indonesian patrol vessel to release the boat, according to the Jakarta Globe.
"We will summon the Chinese ambassador to discuss the issue. Because in the process of capturing the ship, a standoff occurred," Minister of Fisheries and Maritime Affairs Susi Pudjiastuti reportedly said.
"We want to avoid a much more serious incident, so we settled on just arresting the eight crew members. The ship got away but we have the eight men in custody to help us investigate this incident," Susi said.
However, China has refuted the allegations, claiming the boat was operating in "a traditional Chinese fishing ground" and called on Indonesia to release the fishermen.
"On March 19, after the relevant trawler was attacked and harassed by an armed Indonesian ship, a Chinese Coast Guard ship went to assist," China's foreign ministry said Sunday, according to Reuters.
Similar incidents involving Chinese boats and trawlers in Indonesian waters have occurred in recent years, in which Chinese vessels have confronted Indonesian patrol ships over detention of boats.
While Indonesia is not involved in the heated South China Sea dispute with Beijing, it has protested China's inclusion of the Natuna Islands in its "nine-dash line" demarcation used to claim maritime territory in the disputed region.