Indonesia To Boost Military Presence in Disputed Natuna Islands After China Loses Arbitration

  • Our Bureau
  • 01:58 PM, July 13, 2016
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Indonesia To Boost Military Presence in Disputed Natuna Islands After China Loses Arbitration
Indonesian President Joko Widodo stands on the deck of the Indonesian Navy ship KRI Imam Bonjol at Natuna Islands, June 23, 2016. (Reuters photo)

Indonesia will boost its military strength around its Natuna Islands where there have been clashes with Chinese vessels, the defence minister said Wednesday.

In an interview with AFP, Ryamizard Ryacudu said bolstering defences around Indonesia's South China Sea islands would involve deploying warships, an F-16 fighter jet, surface-to-air missiles, a radar and drones, as well as constructing new ports and improving an airstrip.

The move comes within two weeks of Chinese coast guard's clash with Indonesian authorities over Beijing’s fishing boats seized by Jakarta.

The military build-up, which started in recent months, would be completed in "less than a year," he said.

Indonesia has become alarmed after Chinese incursions into its waters and after a clash last month, President Joko Widodo visited the Natunas on a warship with his cabinet to send a message to China that Jakarta is serious about defending the remote archipelago.

As well as the military hardware, Indonesia will send special air force and marine task forces as well as an army battalion to the Natunas, once barracks and housing have been built, Ryacudu said.

He insisted that Indonesia was not adding to the growing militarisation of the South China Sea, and suggested it had a right to defend its borders.

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