Indonesian president visits island in waters disputed by Beijing

UNTV News   •   January 8, 2020   •   490

Jakarta – The president of Indonesia on Wednesday visited an island in disputed waters of the South China Sea amid a weeks-long standoff between Indonesian and Chinese vessels, an outgrowth of the ongoing territorial spat in which Jakarta and Beijing both claim sovereignty over the area.

Joko Widodo made the symbolic trip to Natuna Besar – the main island of the Middle Natuna Archipelago in the Riau Islands province – in a bid to assert Indonesia’s claims of ownership of the waters. There, he met with local fishermen and talked to reporters.

“I am here too to ensure law enforcement for our sovereign rights – our country’s sovereign rights – over the richness of our marine natural resources in the exclusive economic zone,” Widodo said. “Why are Bakamla (the Indonesian Maritime Security Agency) and the Navy here? To ensure the rule of law.”

The leader, who was re-elected to a second term in April of last year, added that Indonesia had a district, a regent and a governor in the area. “There are no more debates. De facto, de jure, Natuna is Indonesia.”

Meanwhile, Geng Shuang, the main spokesman for the Chinese foreign ministry, said Wednesday that Beijing had repeatedly reiterated its sovereignty and jurisdiction over relevant waters in the South China Sea.

“I have to stress that China and Indonesia have no territorial sovereignty disputes. Our claims for maritime interests in certain waters in South China Sea overlap,” Geng said. “We are ready to properly handle the differences with Indonesia and uphold the peace and stability in the region as well as our two countries’ relations. Actually, we have been in communication through diplomatic channels.”

The face-off between the two Asian nations erupted in the second half of December when a Chinese coast guard ship that was escorting several fishing vessels entered waters that Jakarta says belong to its EEZ (though Beijing claims the waters as its own, along with most of the South China Sea).

In response to the incursion, Indonesia summoned the Chinese ambassador, issued a letter of protest and sent warships and fighter jets to strengthen its military presence in the area, which it re-named the North Natuna Sea in 2017. Beijing, in turn, deployed another coast guard boat.

On Tuesday, Indonesia sent four more warships as reinforcement. The Southeast Asian country currently has a naval presence of 10 military vessels around Natuna.

The dispute over the Natuna Islands dates back to 2016, when Indonesia decided to build military bases in the region following a series of conflicts with Chinese fishing boats.

Besides Indonesia, China is locked in sovereignty disputes over the South China Sea with the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.

Beijing stakes claim on nearly the entire South China Sea region, an area through which $5 billion worth of commercial traffic passes annually, and which boasts large fishing zones and is reportedly rich in oil and gas reserves. EFE-EPA

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Coronavirus outbreak inspires bursts of mask fashion creativity in Indonesia, Malaysia

UNTV News   •   June 26, 2020

Designers in Indonesia and Malaysia are adding their artistic touches to reusable face masks, providing essential supplies and style and uniqueness amid the pandemic.

In the Indonesian capital of Jakarta, Nicholas Septian Sugandi’s print shop had been losing business throughout his country’s mass-scale restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus, but thanks to a new product introduced in May, lost business has been “recovered”.

Sugandi’s shop has been printing customers’ faces onto reusable face masks so that they can “look like themselves” when wearing it.

Each of the reusable masks takes around 30 minutes to produce, and cost 50,000 Indonesian rupiah ($3) each. The print shop has received hundreds of orders.

Wearing a face mask remains a mandatory practice across Indonesia.

In neighbouring Malaysia, textile designer Hafiz Drahman has utilised traditional designs from around the region to create colourful cloth masks with interchangeable filters.

In particular, Hafiz uses Batik, which is a traditional Javanese art that uses wax and ink to decorate cloth, and is derived from the Javanese word “titik,” meaning “dot”.

“So, as a designer, I saw that as an opportunity to use the cloth that I had, that is Batik textiles, and turn it into face masks,” Hafiz said from his workshop in Shah Alam, on the outskirts of capital Kuala Lumpur.

Although face masks are not compulsory in Malaysia, people are encouraged to wear them to protect themselves in public areas.

Hafiz currently sells his masks at 20 ringgits ($4.68) each.

Indonesia currently has 50,187 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 2,620 deaths, the highest total in Southeast Asia, while Malaysia has recorded 8,600 cases and 121 deaths as of Friday morning (June 26). (Reuters)

(Production: Yuddy Budiman, Embrahim Harris, Angie Teo)

Beijing launches COVID-19 testing for couriers, food deliverymen

UNTV News   •   June 22, 2020

Logistics and delivery service sectors in Beijing have ramped up testing for all staff members over the weekend to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.

About 103,000 people from 17 postal and courier companies are estimated to be tested by Monday, according to China’s State Post Bureau.

More delivery services with e-commerce platforms also plan to join the massive testing across the city.

Many delivery staff would take about an hour in line for the testing. They said it is essential for the safety of themselves, but also for the catering businesses and customers, as the service is crucial to secure supplies for those who stay at home.

“It is necessary to do the nucleic acid test for the safety of ourselves, for the business and for our customers, so that everyone is assured,” said a deliveryman.

This campaign came after the municipal government prioritized the screening for all workers and residents close to the city’s biggest wholesale food market Xinfadi, which most of the infections are linked to.

If the testing result of one of them turns positive, all relevant records of contacts and travel would be traced. Besides, immediate testing and home quarantine are required should delivery riders travel to the high-risk areas.

That is about a three-tier risk alert system that Beijing has rolled out for neighborhoods and communities, ranging from high, medium to low. Beijing reported nine new confirmed COVID-19 cases on Sunday. The capital has recorded over 230 new infections since June 11. A total of four areas in Beijing are now classified as high risk. (Reuters)

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China finds large COVID-19 traces in seafood, meat sections of Beijing food market

UNTV News   •   June 19, 2020

China has found that the seafood and meat stalls in Beijing’s wholesale food market Xinfadi were severely contaminated with the novel coronavirus and suspects the area’s low temperature and high humidity may have been contributing factors, officials said at a press conference in Beijing on Thursday.

“From the reported COVID-19 cases, in particular the survey of products the workers sell at the market, we found that among the patients, most serve at seafood and aquatic product stalls, followed by the beef and mutton section, and then other sections,” said Wu Zunyou, chief epidemiologist of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“Patients from the seafood market showed symptoms earlier than others. Preliminary assessment showed that low temperatures and high humidity may be favorable to the survival of the coronavirus,” Wu added.

From June 11 to 17, Beijing reported 158 domestically transmitted COVID-19 cases.

Most of the latest COVID-19 cases reported in Beijing were related to Xinfadi, a large wholesale market of fruits, vegetables, and meat for the national capital city with a population of more than 21 million.

The now-closed market supplies about 70 percent of the capital’s vegetables, 10 percent of pork, and 3 percent of beef and mutton. (Reuters)

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