A Chinese coast guard ship accompanying fishing boats was detected lurking in the Indonesian terrestrial waters even as the battle against the deadly 2019-nCoV coronavirus which originated in China's Wuhan city is far from being over.
As of Wednesday morning, over 24,300 cases of coronavirus infection have been reported and 490 deaths confirmed in China alone.
Citing the Indonesian Navy's Naval Aviation Centre (Puspenerbal), Indonesia Today reported that the Chinese coast guard ship was escorting fishing boats stealing fish in the disputed Natuna region within Jakarta's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) on January 29. One of China's large Type 054A Jiangkai Class multi-role frigates was also reportedly observed near the North Natuna.
Indonesia's EEZ overlaps with China’s capacious nine-dash line claim, under which Beijing asserts rights over nearly 90 percent of the critical South China Sea. The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates that there are 11 billion barrels of oil in the South China Sea, as well as 190 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
The sophisticated radar of the Indonesian Navy's CN-235 maritime patrol aircraft, tasked with securing Natuna waters, detected the Chinese coast guard vessel "hiding" 222km away.
The coast guard ship, bearing hull number CCG-5305, is also accused of turning off its Automatic Identification System (AIS) that allows maritime authorities to track and monitor vessel movements. The AIS equipment provides information such as unique identification, position, course, and speed of the boat.
Vietnamese boats were sailing in the nearby waters but did not encroach Jakarta's EEZ. These ships also had their AIS turned on, the report said.