Wednesday, December 23, 2015
Beijing voices concern over Indonesia’s blowing up of Chinese fishing boat
PUBLISHED : Thursday, 21 May, 2015
China on Thursday expressed “serious concern” over the blowing up of a Chinese fishing vessel seized by Indonesia six years ago, the first such incident under President Joko Widodo.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry said the country had pressed Indonesia for more details about the destruction of the Chinese boat, which was among 41 vessels blown up by Indonesia on Wednesday suspected of illegal fishing. Other countries with boats destroyed include Thailand and Vietnam.
Since taking office last October, Widodo’s administration has blown up dozens of foreign vessels as part of his get-tough campaign against illegal fishing.
But no Chinese vessels were destroyed prior to this week due to delays from legal challenges, an Indonesian government official said.
The Chinese boat was seized by Indonesia in 2009. It was not immediately clear what had happened to the crew when it was seized.
The blowing up of the boats comes amid increased tension in the nearby South China Sea over overlapping territorial claims among China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan. Indonesia is not involved.
Chinese fishing boats have also been illegally fishing in big numbers off West Africa, Greenpeace said on Wednesday, adding that Chinese companies expanded operations in Africa from 13 vessels in 1985 to 462 vessels in 2013.
Authorities sank the vessels in public displays at several sites on Wednesday, local media reported.
Some of the boats were blown up with dynamite and pictures showed the vessels engulfed in flames as they went down.
“Without the continued fight against illegal fishing, we won’t be able to improve the welfare of our fishermen,” Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti told The Jakarta Post newspaper.
The Chinese vessel sunk was reportedly a large ship detained in 2009 for fishing in Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea.
President Joko Widodo has taken a hardline approach to illegal fishing since taking office in October, vowing to stamp out a practice he says costs Southeast Asia’s biggest economy billions of dollars in lost revenues every year.
Indonesia had already destroyed boats from Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Papua New Guinea and the Philippines in highly publicised displays.
Authorities also say foreigners illegally fishing in Indonesia are partly responsible for massive damage to the environment due to the widespread use of explosives and cyanide.
Widodo hopes that increased revenues from fishing can help boost economic growth, which has sunk to a five-year low.