Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Indonesia May Also Challenge China’s South Sea Claims

Indonesian Navy and U.S. Navy officers work through a freedom of navigation
exercise during a legal training symposium. The exercise is part of Cooperation
Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Indonesia 2009. The annual exercise is
conducted between the U.S. and six Southeast Asian countries as an exchange
of expertise and an exercise in interoperability and maritime security skills.
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Lily Daniels.

At a time when China appears to be trying to smooth over its differences with rival claimants in the South China Sea, Indonesia has become the latest to indicate just how serious the situation has become.

Indonesia’s security chief says the Southeast Asian country could become the second in the region to challenge China’s claim to all of the South China Sea.

That is, if Beijing and Jakarta cannot resolve their territorial dispute through dialogue.

Dialogue First

Luhut Panjaitan said Wednesday that Jakarta is working hard on the issue and trying to approach the Chinese to discuss concerns about China’s controversial territorial claims in the South China Sea.

“We would like to see a solution on this in the near future through dialogue, or we could bring it to the International Criminal Court,” Luhut said.

Although he said the International Criminal Court, which deals with some of the world’s most serious offenses such as war crimes, Luhut appeared to be referring to the international tribunal and its Permanent Court of Arbitration at the Hague.

The Philippines has already taken China to the international court, and the court recently ruled that it could hear some of the claims the Philippines has filed against China.

Nine-Dash Line

Beijing has flatly rejected the arbitration.  China has long argued that disputes in the South China Sea should only be handled bilaterally and not through international intervention.

China claims almost all of the South China Sea is part of its territory and uses a so-called “nine-dash line” to outline its claims.  The problem, however, is the line reaches well within the exclusive economic zones of several other countries in the region.  In addition to Indonesia and the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei all have overlapping claims with China.

An exclusive economic zone is an area at sea over which a country has special rights to resources exploration, according to the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea.

“We don’t want to see any power projection in this area.  We would like a peaceful solution by promoting dialogue,”Luhut said.  “The nine-dash line is a problem we are facing, but not only us.”

China’s nine-dash line claim includes Indonesia’s Natuna islands.

By William Ide.


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