Indonesia renames part of South China Sea

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JAKARTA: Indonesia renamed the northern reaches of its exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea as the North Natuna Sea yesterday, the latest act of resistance by South-east Asian nations to China's territorial ambitions in the maritime region.

Seen by analysts as an assertion of Indonesian sovereignty, part of the renamed sea is claimed by China under its contentious maritime boundary, known as the "nine-dash line", which encompasses most of the resource-rich sea.

Several South-east Asian states dispute China's claims and are competing with it to exploit the sea's abundant hydrocarbon and fishing resources. China has raised the ante by deploying military assets on artificial islands constructed on shoals and reefs in disputed parts of the sea.

Indonesia insisted that it is a non-claimant state in the dispute but has clashed with China over fishing rights around the Natuna Islands, detaining Chinese fishermen and expanding its military presence in the area.

Unveiling a new map, the deputy of maritime sovereignty at the Ministry of Maritime Affairs, Mr Arif Havas Oegroseno, noted that the side of its exclusive economic zone was the site of oil and gas activity.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said he did not know details of the issue but added that the name South China Sea had broad international recognition and clear geographical limits.

"Certain countries' so-called renaming is totally meaningless," he said. - REUTERS

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