China may be using its submarine drones for undersea recce in Indonesian waters
China’s alleged expansionist activities in the disputed South China Sea and extensive oceanographic research in regions believed to be of military significance are increasingly becoming a concern for major seafaring nations.
Over a fortnight ago, Indonesian fishermen found an underwater drone near Selayar Island in Indonesia’s Flores Sea which according to experts appears to be a Chinese Sea Wing unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV). This news soon spread like wildfire among the Indonesian media as well as social media.
The UUV that was found near Selayar Island in South Sulawesi, far away from Chinese waters, points to Beijing’s active surveillance of shipping lines in Indonesian waters.
These are also the only deep-water channels that connect the South China Sea to the strategic Indian Ocean, which also brings India into the picture.
Even though Indonesia does not see itself as a party to the list of disputes related to the South China Sea, Beijing has in the past claimed rights to parts of the sea overlapping Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ). The other significant point is that these waters are also close to critical shipping lanes linked to the north of Western Australia.
These are waters through which oil tankers from the Middle East carry oil to China. These are also waters through which Singaporean refined fuels flow to Australia.
This is not the first instance though.