Jakarta has formally questioned Beijing over recent moves to expand its territorial waters in the South China Sea, Indonesian Foreign Minister Ali Alatas revealed yesterday. But Mr Alatas, who is also the chairman of the ASEAN Standing Committee, played down the differences with China as the organisation accepted it for the first time as a full 'dialogue partner'. Speaking after the closing session of the foreign ministers' meeting, Mr Alatas said Indonesia had sent the Chinese Embassy in Jakarta an aide memoire seeking clarification of the territorial claims. 'It has to do with their [China's] recent adherence to the Law of the Sea Convention. They are now starting to determine their maritime border, or maritime baselines, across the whole of the continent,' Mr Alatas said. China recently drew protests from two ASEAN members, the Philippines and Vietnam, after releasing new maritime baselines that would allow it to expand its territorial waters by 2.5 million square kilometres. The new territory would include the Paracel Islands in the hotly disputed, reputedly oil-rich South China Sea. 'Indonesia . . . did try to check out on the map in a serious and responsible way exactly how the baselines would materialise on the basis of the co-ordinates given,' Mr Alatas said. 'And we found out that some of the lines faced us with a puzzle as to on what basis they were drawn.' He said Indonesia had then submitted a written inquiry to the ambassador but had yet to lodge a protest. 'That [the formal inquiry] is all that has happened - no protests, no nothing. We are still in the process of inquiry.' He said the ASEAN foreign ministers had also discussed the baselines issue at their weekend meeting but stopped short of including it in their joint communique. Instead they had endorsed the idea of a regional code of conduct in the area, parts of which are claimed by Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Brunei. On other issues, the organisation agreed to push ahead with ratification of its Southeast Asian Nuclear Weapons Free Zone. Mr Alatas later acknowledged there were still differences with the United States over the treaty, which might see restrictions on the passage of its warships. But he said both sides hoped to continue hammering out a solution. The annual round of meetings will continue tomorrow with talks on security issues in the 21-member ASEAN Regional Forum, which includes the world's major military powers. Talks will also run through Wednesday and Thursday with political and economic consultations among ASEAN members and their 'dialogue partners'. Such meetings will include the US, Russian, Chinese, Japanese and Indian foreign ministers. On Burma, Mr Alatas was characteristically blunt, refusing to answer questions on whether ASEAN was pleased with Rangoon's progress on human rights. 'This is interference,' he said of the questions.