News / Asia

Indonesia, China Press US on Spying Allegations

Demonstrators hold signs and a picture supporting Edward Snowden outside the Consulate General of the United States in Hong Kong, June 13, 2013.
Demonstrators hold signs and a picture supporting Edward Snowden outside the Consulate General of the United States in Hong Kong, June 13, 2013.
Kate Lamb
As the U.S. government faces continued pressure to explain its international spying operations, new allegations have emerged about the extent of U.S. surveillance in Asia. 

The Indonesian Foreign Ministry has summoned America’s top diplomat in Jakarta to clarify allegations the U.S embassy has been spying on its president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.
Relying on recent documents leaked by former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden, media reports indicate the U.S embassy in Jakarta houses wiretapping equipment that has been used to monitor the president and other Indonesian leaders.
The foreign minister said the activities would not only qualify as security breaches, but also as a serious ‘violation of diplomatic norms and ethics,’ and has demanded the U.S explain.
Political analyst Aleksius Jemadu from Jakarta’s Pelita Harpan University said the claims could undermine the relationship between the two countries.
“I think the U.S. government has to have to the courage to explain, in order to restore the trust that is really needed in order to strengthen and to develop a good relationship, taking into account that Indonesia plays a key role in the stability in Southeast Asia,” Aleksius said.
Deputy Chief of Mission Kristen Bauer, the U.S. embassy official who was summoned by the foreign ministry, declined to comment.
Indonesia is a key regional ally for the United States, particularly as a diplomatic counter to China’s aggressive territorial claims in the South China Sea.

Other U.S. allies have expressed outrage over reports about the extent of U.S. surveillance of foreign leaders.  
The State Department has declined to respond to specific claims, saying only that reviews of intelligence gathering will be complete by the end of the year.
But the revelations of the extent of the National Security Agency’s overseas activities have highlighted how some U.S. allies participate in spying.
Media reports based on the NSA documents reveal that Australia has allowed covert NSA programs to operate in its embassies in Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, China and East Timor. The documents describe the facilities as carefully concealed within embassy compounds. Most diplomatic staff reportedly are unaware they exist.  
Professor Hikmahanto Juwana, a law professor from the University of Indonesia, said those allegations could be even more damaging.
“I think it is going to be very difficult for the Indonesian government to go against the U.S. very harshly. However this is different with Australia because Indonesia sees Australia as less powerful and I think the Indonesian government can make a big fuss about this issue,” the professor said.
Juwana said Indonesia could refuse to cooperate on some critical issues with Australia, such as efforts to stop people smugglers.
The uproar over U.S. spying follows previous criticism from China, Russia and India that the United States has too much control over infrastructure in the cyber sphere.
In Beijing Thursday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying demanded the United States explain its use of Australian embassies for spying.
She said China is extremely concerned about this report, adding that they ask all foreign embassies in China to respect the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and not get involved with activities that harm Beijing's security and interests.
This week Japan’s Kyodo news agency reported that in 2011, the NSA asked Tokyo to help it access fiber optic cables carrying communications from China. The report said Japanese officials refused over concerns it would violate Japanese wiretap laws.

You May Like

Beijing Warns US on S. China Sea Patrols

Warning follows news reports Thursday that US military is planning to sail warships close to artificial islands Beijing has been aggressively building More

Indian PM Calls for Unity Amid Tense Climate Over Beef Attacks

Recent series of beef-related incidents seen as signs of rising intolerance toward Muslims and other religious minorities More

Why These Are New York City's Most Treasured Spaces

Under threat of jail time and fines, some New York property owners are not allowed to renovate their spaces without prior approval More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: HD from: US
October 31, 2013 8:53 PM
Spy vs innocents

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdrawsi
Jim Malone
October 09, 2015 12:32 AM
The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

VOA Blogs