An Indonesian navy vessel has been accused of opening fire on a Chinese-registered fishing boat in disputed waters.
China’s foreign ministry claims the incident took place on Friday near the Natuna Islands, a small region of islands off the coast of Borneo of which approximately a quarter is part of Indonesia. This area is known as Kalimantan.
The region includes the Spratly and Paracel island groups which, combined, have ownership claims from China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia, and Malaysia.
China has claimed it retains lawful control over the majority of the South China Sea and has been building islands and increasing infrastructure, something which has caused political friction between countries in the region and the West.
Unlike its neighbours, Indonesia has not contested the majority of islands off its coast. However, China and Indonesia do, from time to time, have confrontations over illegal fishing and Jakarta objects to China’s claim to 80% of the region’s waters.
Friday’s incident is the third reported confrontation between the two South East Asian countries this year. Indonesia’s navy claimed it had fired warning shots at several vessels with Chinese flags. There is one reported injury, although this has not been confirmed.
Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman for the Chinese foreign ministry, said: “China strongly protests and condemns such excessive use of force.”