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Indonesia’s rename of parts of South China Sea totally unreasonable, says Chinese scholar

By Sun Wenyu (People's Daily Online)    16:41, July 19, 2017
Indonesia’s rename of parts of South China Sea totally unreasonable, says Chinese scholar

Indonesia’s rename of parts of South China Sea is totally unreasonable, said Chinese scholar, Liu Feng, after Indonesia said it would henceforth refer to the northern areas of its exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea as the "North Natuna Sea."

China’s Foreign Ministry responded that the name of the South China Sea is widely accepted and recognized by the international community, saying any rename was meaningless as it went against the standardization of international toponyms.

According to Indonesian Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs, Luhut Binsar Panjaitan, the renamed parts are within 200 nautical miles of the exclusive economic zone around the Natuna islands, rather than the whole South China Sea.

However, the minister refused to make direct comments on the reaction of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Antara News, Indonesia’s state news agency reported.

Arif Havas Oegroseno, vice Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs who unveiled a new map with the renamed territory, said that the updated map was based on an agreement with neighboring countries, including Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore. To rename the area "North Natuna Sea" is to further define it for oil exploration in the waters around Natuna islands.

Susi Pudjiastuti, Indonesia's Minister of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries stressed that the rename was within the sovereignty of the country. Meutya Hafid, Commission I deputy chairperson of Indonesia’s House of Representatives, on July 17 also called on China to respect the country’s sovereignty.

Liu on Tuesday told Chinese media outlet Global Times that Indonesia’s practice was totally unreasonable. The world recognizes the Standard English toponym of South China Sea since it has a clear geographical range, he said. The region does not only cover the traditional waters of the South China Sea, but also the Gulf of Thailand and the surrounding waters of the Natuna Islands, the scholar added.

Liu noted that China and Indonesia are both regional major countries that have made prominent contributions to peace and stability in the South China Sea. Indonesia hopes to enhance its right to speech and improve its influence on regional affairs, but it does not suggest a fundamental change in the country’s position toward the South China Sea policy.

Liu said President Joko’s administration has always attached great importance to cooperation with China, and the country's strategy to become a global ocean pivot would be to align with China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

He hopes that Indonesia would focus on the bigger picture and make joint efforts to promote cooperation and development in the South China Sea. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Hongyu, Bianji)

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