China and Indonesia have conducted joint naval exercises near Jakarta, Beijing said on Sunday, amidst tension over fishing rights in the South China Sea.
The drills took place on Saturday morning and were part of the Chinese Navy’s annual training program. China sent its Liuzhou and Suqian guided-missile frigates to join Indonesia’s KRI Usman Harun frigate and KRI Halasan missile craft, carrying out exercises including communication drills, search and rescue operations, and formation maneuvers.
The joining training was held to “help improve coordination between the warships, deepen professional communication, enhance mutual trust and cooperation and jointly demonstrate practical actions to safeguard regional peace and stability,” head of the offshore training formation team, Mei Guoqiang, told PLA Daily, the South China Morning Post reported.
China also announced a week ago that it was sending three Chinese salvage ships to join Indonesia, the US, Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, and India in efforts to recover an Indonesian navy submarine in which 53 crew perished.
China’s participation is said to be its first “in an international recovery mission of this sort.”
China and Indonesia have long clashed over fishing rights near the Natuna Islands in the South China Sea.
While Indonesia considers this area to be part of its exclusive economic zone — an area controlled and regulated by countries for fishing rights as prescribed by international law— Beijing has consistently invoked its historical right to fish there.
In January, an Indonesian fisherman discovered a “Chinese-owned” unmanned undersea vehicle near Indonesia’s Selayar Islands, South Sulawesi province. It was over seven feet long (2m), with a sensor array on its nose.
China has also clashed with countries such as Brunei, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines as Beijing continues to increase its assertiveness in the region.
Recently, China conducted maritime training in the South China Sea with an aircraft carrier battle group headed by the Chinese naval aircraft carrier Shandong.