Indonesia's Role in Resolving South China Sea Issues

JAKARTA (ANTARA) – Indonesia, one of the largest countries in Asia – will undoubtedly – participate in the settlement of disputes in the South China Sea (SCS).

Apart from maintaining Indonesia's maritime sovereignty, disputes must be resolved to prevent conflicts between Asian countries that could cause regional and economic instability.

Regional conflicts in the SCS include China, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam.

Controversies began to escalate after China released a map based on its history. The map showed a nine-dash line around the SCS, marking China's claims to the region.

China later released a new map with a ten-dash line overlapping Indonesia's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in the North Naduna Sea.

While this eased tensions, it led Indonesia to take steps to strengthen its maritime sovereignty.

Strengthening military forces has also become one of the government's priorities in anticipation of SCS conflicts.

„The Government is promoting major project projects in an effort to strengthen the security of the Naduna Sea. Hadi Tajjanto.

He said this during a discussion held by the Indonesia Strategic and Security Studies (ISTS) Study Group in Jakarta in March.

The Indonesian Navy (TNI AL) can play a role in protecting maritime borders, while the Indonesian Air Force (TNI AU) can help carry out regional reconnaissance missions to protect border points.

Measures taken by the government to strengthen border security include mastering security equipment, improving human resource quality and upgrading technology.

Indonesia is also involved in peace building through diplomacy, with a focus on strengthening maritime security.

The country does that through a non-military approach. In 2023, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China agreed to conclude negotiations on the Code of Conduct (COC) in the SCS in three years.

READ  Sudan: More Sudanese stranded in Wadi Halfa as Egyptian visa takes 'three months'

This is Indonesia's initiative to speed up COC negotiations in the disputed SCS.

Guidelines for the acceleration were earlier adopted at the 2023 ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Jakarta and Wang Yi, Director of the Office of China's Central Foreign Affairs Commission.

The guidelines include ASEAN and China's aspirations to conclude the COC in three years or less through intensive discussions on outstanding issues.

The COC is expected to reflect international norms, principles and harmonized rules and to refer to international law to promote peace between disputing countries.

„We all hope that the COC will become an effective, substantive and workable document to avoid escalation of mutual trust and confidence among countries with interests in the South China Sea,” Tjahjanto said.

Khairul Fahmi, a military observer and co-founder of the Institute for Security and Strategic Studies (ISESS), said Indonesia could use other methods, particularly military diplomacy, to ease tensions in the South China Sea.

The TNI is well positioned to conduct military diplomacy in all countries involved in conflict.

Some of the diplomatic initiatives include conducting joint training between countries, undertaking exchange programs for personnel to improve human resource quality, and building cooperation to maintain security.

According to Fahmy, Indonesia has the capital to undertake those efforts as it is considered one of the major military powers in Asia.

Indonesia could become a mediator between the disputing countries, he said.

Indonesia should focus on protecting itself before engaging in peace efforts between countries, including protecting its territorial waters from foreign ships.

According to military observer Alman Helvaz Ali, Indonesia must maintain a database of all ships in the region.

READ  Up to 1,000 Papuan students to train in Europe: Godin

With that database, it would be easier for TNI AL to identify ships by their acoustic signatures.

Ali also underlined the importance of installing underwater listening devices in endangered waters such as the Malacca Straits, Sunda Straits, Lombok Straits, Sulawesi Straits, and the North Natuna Sea.

He hoped that improving defense technology would make Indonesia strong and respected in Asia.

Indonesia's road to cooling tensions will be smoother because its voice will be more easily heard by other countries.

Recent Encounters with China

So far, Indonesia has continued diplomatic efforts.

On April 1-2, Indonesian Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto held meetings with several key officials in China. He also met Chinese President Xi Jinping, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Chinese National Defense Minister Admiral Dong Jun.

The meeting is believed to focus not only on cooperation in the defense sector but also on efforts to resolve disputes in the SCS.

While Prabowo was welcomed by Chinese leaders, Ali reminded the government to be cautious.

„We have to be vigilant because what China says in the diplomatic world is often different from what they do at sea,” he explained.

He underlined that China will always claim the SCS region as its territory.

According to the observer, China, in many cases, seems to be showing a calm approach and wants to end the disputes. However, its approach is the opposite of what was done in SCS.

Citing an example, he recalled the recent encounter between ships belonging to China and the Philippines along the SCS border, which raised tensions.

READ  Juliana V. How the United States Can Improve Climate Action

Therefore, increasing security by making diplomatic efforts and improving security equipment is the right course of action, he said.

Although the dynamics of diplomacy often do not produce the results Indonesia hopes for, approach after approach will continue to be taken to build regional peace.

Strengthening of the military continues in line with diplomatic efforts.

Through Indonesia's continued efforts to mediate with disputing countries, the peace that Indonesia and all ASEAN countries dream of can be realized in the SCS.

Related news: Indonesia warns of conflict risks in South China Sea: Minister
Related news: Indonesia ready for ASEAN cooperation to finalize COC on SCS

Dodaj komentarz

Twój adres e-mail nie zostanie opublikowany. Wymagane pola są oznaczone *