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Jakarta Post

Indonesia must lead for sake of its interests in South China Sea

Sydney   /   Wed, April 5, 2017   /  10:32 am
Indonesia must lead for sake of its interests in South China Sea President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo (center), accompanied by Navy chief of staff Adm. Ade Supandi (left) and other senior officials, inspects the warship KRI Imam Bonjol 383 after a Cabinet meeting onboard in the Natuna waters, Riau Islands, on June 23. (Courtesy of Setpres/Krishadiyanto)

Over the past quarter century, Indonesia has sought to play the role of an honest broker in the South China Sea disputes, facilitating negotiations over a proposed Code of Conduct for claimants to the sea, and hosting workshops on technical issues and other barriers to cooperation. These efforts, though admirable, are no longer equal to the challenge presented by Chinese actions, which now pose a much broader risk to Indonesian interests. Since 2013, Beijing has constructed three large air bases and four smaller islands on top of coral reefs in the South China Sea, and has begun to place military personnel and weapons systems on them. The total area reclaimed is 15 times greater than that of Merdeka Square, and far greater than that reclaimed by Vietnam, the Philippines and Malaysia. China’s increased presence will help it to enforce its maritime claims for example, by pressu...

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official stance of The Jakarta Post.