Breaking News
Get Actionable Insights with InvestingPro+: Start 7 Day FREE Trial Register here
Investing Pro 0
Ad-Free Version. Upgrade your Investing.com experience. Save up to 40% More details

Exclusive-China protested Indonesian drilling, military exercises

Stock MarketsDec 01, 2021 09:07AM ET
Saved. See Saved Items.
This article has already been saved in your Saved Items
 
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Indonesia's Deputy Minister for Maritime Affairs Arif Havas Oegroseno points at the location of North Natuna Sea on a new map of Indonesia during talks with reporters in Jakarta, Indonesia, July 14, 2017. REUTERS/Beawiharta/File Photo

By Tom Allard, Kate Lamb and Agustinus Beo Da Costa

SYDNEY/JAKARTA (Reuters) -China told Indonesia to stop drilling for oil and natural gas in maritime territory that both countries regard as their own during a months-long standoff in the South China Sea earlier this year, four people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

The unprecedented demand, which has not previously been reported, elevated tensions over natural resources between the two countries in a volatile area of global strategic and economic importance.

One letter from Chinese diplomats to Indonesia's foreign ministry clearly told Indonesia to halt drilling at a temporary offshore rig because it was taking place in Chinese territory, according to Muhammad Farhan, an Indonesian lawmaker on parliament's national security committee, which was briefed on the letter.

"Our reply was very firm, that we are not going to stop the drilling because it is our sovereign right," Farhan told Reuters.

A spokesman for Indonesia's foreign ministry said: "Any diplomatic communication between states is private in nature and its content cannot be shared." He declined further comment.

China's embassy in Indonesia's capital Jakarta did not respond to a request for comment.

Three other people, who said they were briefed on the matter, confirmed the existence of the letter. Two of those people said China made repeated demands that Indonesia stop drilling.

Southeast Asia's biggest nation says the southern end of the South China Sea is its exclusive economic zone under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and named the area as the North Natuna Sea in 2017.

China objected to the name change and insists the waterway is within its expansive territorial claim in the South China Sea that it marks with a U-shaped "nine-dash line," a boundary found to have no legal basis by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague in 2016.

"It (the letter) was a bit threatening because it was the first effort of China's diplomats to push their nine-dash line agenda against our rights under the Law of the Sea," Farhan told Reuters.

China is Indonesia's biggest trade partner and second-largest source of investment, making it a key part of Indonesia's ambition to become a top-tier economy. Indonesian leaders kept quiet about the matter in order to avoid conflict or a diplomatic spat with China, Farhan and two of the other people who spoke to Reuters said.

Farhan said that China, in a separate letter, also protested against the predominantly land-based Garuda Shield military exercises in August, which took place during the standoff.

The exercises, involving 4,500 troops from the United States and Indonesia, have been a regular event since 2009. This was China's first protest against them, according to Farhan. "In their formal letter, the Chinese government was expressing their concern about the security stability in the area," he said.

TENSIONS AT SEA

Within days of the Noble Clyde Boudreaux semi-submersible rig arriving at the Tuna Block in the Natuna Sea to drill two appraisal wells on June 30, a Chinese Coast Guard vessel was at the scene, according to ship movement data. It was soon joined by an Indonesian Coast Guard vessel.

In response to questions from Reuters, China's foreign ministry said the Chinese Coast Guard ship was "carrying out normal patrol activities in waters under Chinese jurisdiction." It did not respond to questions about communications with Indonesia over the drilling.

China's defence ministry did not respond to requests for comment.

Over the next four months, Chinese and Indonesian ships shadowed each other around the oil and gas field, frequently coming within 1 nautical mile of each other, according to an analysis of ship identification data and satellite imagery by the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI), a project run by the U.S.-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Data and images reviewed by AMTI and the Indonesia Ocean Justice Initiative (IOJI), a Jakarta-based independent think-tank, shows a Chinese research ship, Haiyang Dizhi 10, arrived in the area in late August, spending most of the next seven weeks moving slowly in a grid pattern of the adjacent D-Alpha Block, an oil and gas reserve also in contested waters, valued at $500 billion by Indonesian government studies.

"Based on the pattern of movement, nature, and ownership of the vessel, it looked like it was conducting a scientific survey of the D-Alpha reserve," said Jeremia Humolong, a researcher at the IOJI.

On Sept. 25, the American aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan came within 7 nautical miles of the Tuna Block drilling rig. "This is the first observed instance of a U.S. aircraft carrier operating in such proximity to an ongoing standoff" in the South China Sea, AMTI said in a report published in November.

Four Chinese warships were also deployed to the area, according to the IOJI and local fishermen.

A spokesman for the U.S. Navy's Carrier Strike Group 5/Task Force 70 declined to disclose the carrier's distance from the rig.

'NEVER SURRENDER'

China is in negotiations with 10 Southeast Asian states, including Indonesia, to hammer out a code of conduct for the South China Sea, a waterway rich in natural resources carrying at least $3.4 trillion in annual trade. The talks, under the auspices of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), restarted this year after being stopped due to the pandemic.

Beijing's increasingly aggressive stance in the South China Sea has sparked concern in Jakarta, four sources told Reuters.

Indonesia has not made any formal claim to areas of the South China Sea under United Nations rules, believing the extent of its waters is already clearly set by international law.

Chinese president Xi Jinping has tried to play down tensions between it and Southeast Asian states, telling a China-ASEAN leaders summit last month that China "absolutely will not seek hegemony or even less, bully the small" in the region.

Farhan told Reuters Indonesia's government played down the tension of the standoff publicly. Its leaders wanted to be "as silent as possible because, if it was leaked to any media, it would create a diplomatic incident," he said.

The temporary rig operated until Nov. 19, after which it went to Malaysian waters. Indonesian security minister Mahfud M.D. went to the Natuna Sea last week. He said his visit had nothing to do with China, but said in a public statement that Indonesia would "never surrender an inch" of territory.

The drilling was completed on time, according to a spokesman for Harbour Energy, the operator of the Tuna Block. In a similar confrontation with China in 2017, Vietnam abandoned exploration activities. Harbour Energy is expected to issue an update on the drilling results on Dec. 9.

Exclusive-China protested Indonesian drilling, military exercises
 

Related Articles

Add a Comment

Comment Guidelines

We encourage you to use comments to engage with other users, share your perspective and ask questions of authors and each other. However, in order to maintain the high level of discourse we’ve all come to value and expect, please keep the following criteria in mind:  

  •            Enrich the conversation, don’t trash it.

  •           Stay focused and on track. Only post material that’s relevant to the topic being discussed. 

  •           Be respectful. Even negative opinions can be framed positively and diplomatically. Avoid profanity, slander or personal attacks directed at an author or another user. Racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination will not be tolerated.

  • Use standard writing style. Include punctuation and upper and lower cases. Comments that are written in all caps and contain excessive use of symbols will be removed.
  • NOTE: Spam and/or promotional messages and comments containing links will be removed. Phone numbers, email addresses, links to personal or business websites, Skype/Telegram/WhatsApp etc. addresses (including links to groups) will also be removed; self-promotional material or business-related solicitations or PR (ie, contact me for signals/advice etc.), and/or any other comment that contains personal contact specifcs or advertising will be removed as well. In addition, any of the above-mentioned violations may result in suspension of your account.
  • Doxxing. We do not allow any sharing of private or personal contact or other information about any individual or organization. This will result in immediate suspension of the commentor and his or her account.
  • Don’t monopolize the conversation. We appreciate passion and conviction, but we also strongly believe in giving everyone a chance to air their point of view. Therefore, in addition to civil interaction, we expect commenters to offer their opinions succinctly and thoughtfully, but not so repeatedly that others are annoyed or offended. If we receive complaints about individuals who take over a thread or forum, we reserve the right to ban them from the site, without recourse.
  • Only English comments will be allowed.

Perpetrators of spam or abuse will be deleted from the site and prohibited from future registration at Investing.com’s discretion.

Write your thoughts here
 
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
 
Post
Post also to:
 
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
1000
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Thanks for your comment. Please note that all comments are pending until approved by our moderators. It may therefore take some time before it appears on our website.
Comments (2)
sam Ala
sam Ala Dec 01, 2021 12:36PM ET
Saved. See Saved Items.
This comment has already been saved in your Saved Items
There you go again CCP regime , XI AKA omicron..
Raja Tampan
Raja Tampan Dec 01, 2021 2:11AM ET
Saved. See Saved Items.
This comment has already been saved in your Saved Items
So who will win?
Fong SH
Fong SH Dec 01, 2021 2:11AM ET
Saved. See Saved Items.
This comment has already been saved in your Saved Items
China, as the name is South China Sea.
leehiung chong
leehiung chong Dec 01, 2021 2:11AM ET
Saved. See Saved Items.
This comment has already been saved in your Saved Items
this round Indonesia won as they completed their survey while China also kept quiet ...
 
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
 
Post
 
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
1000
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Add Chart to Comment
Confirm Block

Are you sure you want to block %USER_NAME%?

By doing so, you and %USER_NAME% will not be able to see any of each other's Investing.com's posts.

%USER_NAME% was successfully added to your Block List

Since you’ve just unblocked this person, you must wait 48 hours before renewing the block.

Report this comment

I feel that this comment is:

Comment flagged

Thank You!

Your report has been sent to our moderators for review
Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.
Continue with Google
or
Sign up with Email