Indonesia’s New North Natuna Sea: What’s In a Name?

  • Indonesia has renamed the northern reaches of its exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea as the North Natuna Sea, the latest act of resistance to China’s territorial ambitions in the maritime region.
  • Part of the renamed sea is claimed by China under its contentious maritime boundary, known as the “nine-dash line”, that encompasses most of the resource-rich sea.
  • Several South-East Asian states dispute China’s territorial claims and are competing with China to exploit the South China Sea’s abundant hydrocarbon and fishing resources.
  • China has raised the ante by deploying military assets on artificial islands constructed on shoals and reefs in disputed parts of the sea.

Key points:

  • Indonesia officially marks North Natuna Sea on the map for the first time
  • China dismisses the move as meaningless
  • Analysts call it a political statement that will “be noticed in Beijing.”

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