Indonesia condemns treatment of nationals by Chinese fishing company

Indonesia condemns treatment of nationals by Chinese fishing company

Top Stories | May 22, 2020:

The Associated Press

Indonesia’s government has condemned what it calls the “inhuman” treatment of its nationals by a Chinese fishing company that allegedly kept Indonesian fishermen as virtual slaves, leading to the deaths of at least three of them. The issue threatens to further inflame tensions between China and Indonesia, which accuses Chinese boats of poaching in its exclusive economic zone.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi, pictured, said in an early May 2020 videoconference from the capital, Jakarta, that 49 Indonesian fishermen, ranging from 19 to 24 years old, were forced to work an average of over 18 hours a day on at least four Chinese fishing boats.

Marsudi said some of the fishermen were either not paid or did not receive the agreed amount. The ceaseless work and poor conditions on the ships caused illnesses among crew members, killing at least three Indonesians, whose bodies were cast overboard into the Pacific Ocean, she said.

At a recent briefing, People’s Republic of China (PRC) foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said the PRC was investigating the incident, but that preliminary results show “parts of the report are false.”

“China and Indonesia have maintained close communication on this matter and will properly handle relevant issues on the basis of respecting facts and laws,” Zhao told reporters.