Indonesia Says It Sees Chinese Research Vessel In Its Waters, Tracker Off By Reuters

By Agustinus Beo Da Costa JAKARTA (Reuters) – A Chinese research vessel was identified in Indonesian waters with its tracking system turned off, authorities said on Thursday, amid concerns in the region about Beijing’s maritime conduct. Colonel Wisnu Pramandita, a spokesman for Indonesia’s maritime security agency, known as Bakamla, said in a statement that authorities suspected the vessel was conducting unauthorized activities in the Sunda Strait after its automatic identification system (AIS ) was disconnected three times. The Xiang Yang Hong 03 left the Indonesian exclusive economic zone late on Wednesday. Indonesian security officials have closely followed the activities of Chinese ships throughout the archipelago, amid broader tensions in the region and concerns about the militarization of Beijing and the conduct of its coast guard and fishing fleet. The incident follows the recent discovery of an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) by a local fisherman on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi last month, raising concerns about a possible security breach. Analysts said the AUV could have been made in China. The navy is still investigating its origins. It was not immediately clear if there was a connection between the research vessel and the AUV, the Bakalma spokesman told Reuters. The Xiang Yang Hong 03 during a radio communication told Indonesian authorities that its AIS had failed, Bakalma said. The vessel was seen during operations to recover the Sriwijaya Air plane that crashed in the Java Sea on Saturday with 62 people on board. The Chinese embassy in Jakarta was not immediately available for comment on the ship, while a spokesman for the Indonesian Foreign Ministry said it was not aware that permission had been granted for maritime research activities. The Indonesian archipelago straddles strategically important sea lanes used for trade, and its waters are also home to rich fishing grounds and significant energy reserves.

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