Respecting Borders – Editorial – The Jakarta Post
Editorial Board (The Jakarta Post)
Tue, September 21, 2021
Surely it is no coincidence that in its statement released last week regarding the latest situation around Natuna waters, the navy mentioned the presence of Chinese and US ships in international waters around the territory.
With this declaration, Indonesia not only sought to protect its sovereignty and national interests, but it also chose to conduct a delicate balancing act in a region that has just entered a new era with the signing of an agreement on nuclear submarines involving the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom.
Tension is certainly mounting and Indonesia, in accordance with his status as senior ASEAN statesman, is also poised to project an image of leadership in the region, while others remain silent, covering their bets on the new security alliance, according to their strategic interests. .
So far, the Navy has mostly only talked about incursions by Chinese ships, but since last week, after it became official that the United States officially entered the game with the AUKUS Pact, the superpower nation has also become the target. of our attention.
After all, there were disturbing aspects to the activities of these warships in the South China Sea, some of which were in close contact, prompting the navy to deliver its assessment of the situation.
There was speculation that China appeared to be bracing for a confrontation between the USS Carl Vinson and the Chinese investigative vessel Haizhang Dizhi 10, both located just 50 nautical miles apart on September 12. . It was also around this time. that Indonesian fishermen reported sighting six Chinese vessels, including the 052D type destroyer Kunming, which was widely discussed in the media.
In response to this escalation, Indonesia dispatched four warships, the tanker KRI Bontang and several Bakamla (Coast Guard) patrol boats, which may sound like a lot but is actually modest considering the gravity of the situation.
But Indonesia intends to send a strong signal that it is ready and willing to defend its territorial integrity.
President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, a populist president backed by a nationalist political party, has made it clear that when it comes to territorial integrity, he certainly does not want anyone to test Indonesia’s resolve. In 2016, he held a restricted Cabinet meeting aboard a warship in the waters of Natuna. Last year, Jokowi visited the Natuna Regency again, his fourth outing to the region bordering the South China Sea during his tenure. He also ordered the deployment of troops and military equipment to Natuna, rich in natural resources.
It is constitutionally mandated that the nation should strive to bring peace to the world, and Indonesia has no desire to stir up tensions.
Its free and active foreign policy has also guided Indonesia to be an honest broker, especially in the region, commensurate with its status as a middle power. However, Indonesia can only fulfill this role if it has sufficient credibility and this will be determined by Indonesia’s ability to defend its own territorial integrity.
After all, an independent and sovereign Indonesia is the key to security and peace in the region.