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Jakarta Post

Indonesia responds to India, China's latest spat, calls for restraint amid pandemic

  • Apriza Pinandita
    Apriza Pinandita

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Thu, June 18, 2020   /   10:02 am
Indonesia responds to India, China's latest spat, calls for restraint amid pandemic A man walks inside a conference room used for meetings between military commanders of China and India, at the Indian side of the Indo-China border at Bumla, in the northeastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, on Nov. 11, 2009. (Reuters/Adnan Abidi)

Indonesia has called for India and China, its two largest trading partners, to exercise restraint following armed conflict between the two countries over the past few days.

As reported by Reuters, the Indian army said at least 20 of its soldiers had been killed in clashes with Chinese troops at a disputed border site between the two countries on Monday.

“Indonesia closely follows any developments regarding the issue, and of course [we] hope that the relevant parties can find ways to reduce tension,” Indonesian Foreign Ministry spokesman Teuku Faizasyah said in a press briefing on Wednesday.

As international communities are focusing on dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, Faizasyah said “any kind of development that could potentially disrupt [international] stability would further disrupt the global collective efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.”

New Delhi and Beijing had traded accusations over which was to blame for the fight in the Ladakh region of the western Himalayas before they agreed to de-escalate the situation at their border as soon as possible, Reuters reported.

India and China are both important economic partners for Indonesia. According to data from the Indian government, Indonesia has emerged as the second-largest trading partner for India in the ASEAN region. Bilateral trade increased from US$4.3 billion in the period of 2005 to 2006 to US$21 billion in the period of 2018 to 2019.

India is the second-largest buyer of coal and crude palm oil from Indonesia and imports minerals, rubber, pulp and paper and hydrocarbons reserves.

Meanwhile, China remains Indonesia’s largest trading partner, with a total trade value of US$72.8 billion in 2019, Indonesian Trade Ministry data said.

Read also: Why are Chinese and Indian troops fighting in a remote Himalayan valley?

Concerns have been raised as to how the conflict would impact India’s participation in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) - a proposed free trade agreement in the Indo-Pacific region between the 10 member states of ASEAN and five of ASEAN's free trade agreement (FTA) partners, namely Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea. 

India, which is also ASEAN's FTA partner, opted out of the RCEP in November last year but the remaining countries have since tried to sway India back. 

“Thus far, in every discussion about the RCEP, we know that the remaining countries are still trying to invite India back. There has been no conclusive result yet as negotiations, including the legal drafting of the partnership, will be concluded later this year,” Faizasyah said.