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Jakarta Post

Too close for comfort

  • Editorial board

    Jakarta

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Jakarta   /   Wed, January 27 2021   /  01:00 am
The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS McCampbell during a divisional tactics exercise in the South China Sea, January 15, 2019. Photo taken January 15, 2019. Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (Reuters/John Harris/U.S. Navy/Handout)

The recent call to restart regional negotiations with China on a code of conduct (COC) in the South China Sea is something that the Joko “Jokowi” Widodo administration must take very seriously. Under President Jokowi, and in no small part thanks to extensive engagement by his senior minister Luhut Pandjaitan, Indonesia has never been closer to China. But perhaps it is too close for comfort. Benefits in long-term development funding and COVID-19 response know-how aside, Jakarta’s love affair with Beijing must be weighed against the very possible risk of open conflict in our own backyard. Unlike the United States, which extends its guarantee of security to its allies, China rarely makes the same promise — and the new coast guard law passed last week at the National People’s Congress does little to soothe concerns. The legislation effectively weapon...