Editorial: Clinton comes to town
Paper Edition | Page: 6
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is visiting Indonesia at a time when the situation in East Asia is highly strung by the tensions in the South China Sea and the East China Sea. Working relations between Indonesia and the US are now at their best as both countries are expanding and deepening ties through the Comprehensive Partnership agreement. This bodes well for reaching a common understanding in finding the best ways to ease regional tensions.
Given its huge interests in Asia, the United States could make a significant contribution to ongoing diplomacy to ease the tensions caused by recent military skirmishes on the two seas, mostly involving China.
Indonesia has taken many diplomatic initiatives, trying to forge a common position within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and trying to convince Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi on his visit here last month to agree on a code of conduct for countries with vested interest in the South China Sea.
Times like these call for tactful diplomacy. Smaller countries can afford to be reckless in what they say, but the region’s large and medium powers have the responsibility to ensure that the situation does not spin out of control. Sensible discussions can only take place when cool heads prevail.
Clinton should avoid making speeches that could be perceived as taking jabs at Beijing, as she did in Mongolia in July and during her visit to Africa in August. Indonesia, a nascent democracy — with all its imperfections and challenges — is certainly no place for such preaching lectures.
In her previous visits as US first lady and later as secretary of state, Clinton has always made a big impression on Indonesia. This may be her last visit in her official capacity since she has disclosed that she has no intention of running for public office beyond the current Obama administration.
She will always be warmly welcomed in Indonesia, in whatever capacity. Selamat datang.