Intrigue on the high seas between Indonesia, China

An unprecedented Chinese protest over Indonesia drilling for natural gas in its own waters appears to have cast new light over why Jakarta remained strangely silent over a recent seven-week incursion by a Chinese research ship and two armed Coast Guard escorts.

Officials declined to comment on the report by the Reuters news agency, but they have made it clear through informal channels that, unlike neighboring Malaysia and Vietnam, Indonesia rejected the demand and ensured the drilling program was concluded on schedule.

Although the international and domestic media largely ignored the incursion at the time, the Indonesian government was clearly anxious to keep it that way and avoid a public diplomatic spat with a country with which it enjoys close economic ties.

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