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Jakarta Post

Let'€™s make Asia Pacific peaceful: RI tells Chinese general

  • Bagus BT Saragih

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Fri, July 25, 2014   /  10:18 am

Indonesian Defense Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro has called on China to help maintain peace in the Asia-Pacific as the region has seen what has been perceived as increased assertiveness from China in territorial disputes over the South China Sea and East China Sea, which has put some countries in a restive mood.

'€œIndonesia is not a claimant in the South China Sea dispute. However, as part of Indonesia'€™s role in multilateral cooperation, we want the South China Sea to be a peaceful and open sailing area given the fact that ships carrying commodities pass through the area,'€ Purnomo said after meeting with the vice chairman of China'€™s Central Military Commission (CMC), Gen. Fan Changlong, in Jakarta on Thursday.

During a meeting with Fan, who is second-in-command of the People'€™s Liberation Army, Purnomo said the session had actually been aimed at discussing the Jakarta-Beijing defense and military partnership. However, he acknowledged that topics surrounding territorial disputes in the South China Sea and East China Sea had also been on the table.

On China'€™s border issue with Japan, which was recently ignited by Beijing'€™s unilateral move to impose the Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) in the East China Sea, Purnomo said he had proposed that China promote peaceful negotiations to find a solution.

'€œWe do not want to see open conflict because it will definitely disturb the security and stability in the region,'€ the minister said.

On Fan'€™s part, according to Purnomo, he had expressed China'€™s interest in improving defense cooperation between the two countries, particularly in middle-level personnel exchange.

Indonesia and China, both considered key players in the region particularly following the US'€™ policy to rebalance its pivot to Asia Pacific, have been enjoying robust cooperation in many sectors including defense and military.

'€œIndonesia and China, as two big nations in the region, share similar interests and responsibilities in the maintenance of security and stability. Therefore, it is crucial to implement the two countries'€™ strategic partnerships more concretely, including those in the defense sector,'€ Purnomo said.

Fan was in Jakarta as part of a two-day visit to Indonesia. He was also scheduled to meet Vice President Boediono and Indonesian Military (TNI) commander Gen. Moeldoko.

On Friday, Fan and his entourage are scheduled to visit Indonesia'€™s Peacekeeping Center in Sentul, West Java. Fan'€™s Asia tour also included Australia and New Zealand, where he had meetings with both countries'€™ ministerial-level officials.

The Jakarta-Beijing cooperation has been fruitful particularly since the two countries'€™ leaders signed a Strategic Partnership in 2005. Two years later, Indonesia and China signed an agreement to cooperate in the defense sector.

In December last year, Chinese Defense Minister and state councilor Gen. Chang Wanquan met with Purnomo in Jakarta, as a follow up to Chinese President Xi Jinping'€™s visit in October.

Indonesia-China cooperation in the defense industry was marked with the signing of a memorandum of understanding on the sector in March 2011. Many missiles used by the TNI are Chinese-made.

Many believe that, although Indonesia is not a claimant in the territorial dispute, Jakarta'€™s ongoing lavish arms spending could have gained attention from countries in the region including China. Indonesia has allocated Rp 83.4 trillion (US$7.21 billion), less than 1 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), for defense spending in 2014.

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