Indonesia says could also take China to court over South China Sea

A fishing boat motors back to shore on the east coast of Natuna Besar July 8, 2014. Picture taken July 8, 2014. REUTERS/Tim Wimborne

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesia could take China before an international court if Beijing’s claim to the majority of the South China Sea and part of Indonesian territory is not resolved through dialogue, Indonesia’s security chief said on Wednesday.

Beijing’s claim to almost the entire South China Sea is shown on Chinese maps with a nine-dash line that stretches deep into the maritime heart of Southeast Asia, including parts of the Indonesian-held Natuna islands.

Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei also claim parts of the waterway. The Philippines has already taken China to the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague, a case Beijing refuses to recognize.

Indonesia believes China’s claim over parts of the Natuna islands has no legal basis.

“We are working very hard on this. We are trying to approach the Chinese,” Luhut Panjaitan told reporters. “We would like to see a solution on this in the near future through dialogue, or we could bring it to the International Criminal Court.”

Although he specified the International Criminal Court, which deals with “the most serious crimes of concern to the international community” such as war crimes, it would appear he meant an international tribunal, such as the Permanent Court of Arbitration.

“We don’t want to see any power projection in this area. We would like a peaceful solution by promoting dialogue. The nine-dash line is a problem we are facing, but not only us. It also directly (impacts) the interests of Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam and the Philippines.”

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Wednesday the Philippines’ case against China had strained relations and that it was up to the Philippines to heal the rift.

Reporting by Randy Fabi; Editing by Nick Macfie