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

Video In US, Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy

Holiday marks date Columbus discovered Americas, but some are offended by legacy because he enslaved many natives he encountered More

Video Through Sports, Austria Tries to Give Migrants Traction

With 85,000 people expected to claim asylum in Austria this year, its government has made integration through joint physical activities a key objective More

Video Kickboxing Champion Shares Sport With Young Migrants

Pouring into Europe by hundreds of thousands, some migrants, especially youngsters, are finding sports a way to integrate into new host countries 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.
Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemeni
Henry Ridgwell
October 12, 2015 4:03 PM
The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemen

The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video No Resolution in Sight to US House Speaker Drama

Uncertainty grips the U.S. Congress, where no consensus replacement has emerged to succeed Republican House Speaker John Boehner after his surprise resignation announcement. Half of Congress is effectively leaderless weeks before America risks defaulting on its national debt and enduring another partial government shutdown.

Video New Art Exhibit Focuses on Hope

Out of struggle and despair often comes hope. That idea is behind a new art exhibit at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. "The Big Hope Show" features 25 artists, some of whom overcame trauma and loss. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy as US Holiday

The second Monday of October is Columbus Day in the United States, honoring explorer Christopher Columbus and his discovery of the Americas. The achievement is a source of pride for many, but for some the holiday is marked by controversy. Adrianna Zhang has more.

Video Anger Simmers as Turks Begin to Bury Blast Victims

The Turkish army carried out new air strikes on Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets on Sunday, a day after the banned group announced a unilateral cease fire. The air raids apparently are in retaliation for the Saturday bombing in Turkey's capital Ankara that killed at least 95 people and wounded more than 200 others. But as Zlatica Hoke reports, there are suspicions that Islamic State is involved.

Video Bombings a Sign of Turkey’s Deep Troubles

Turkey has begun a three-day period of mourning following Saturday’s bomb attacks in the capital, Ankara, that killed nearly 100 people. With contentious parliamentary elections three weeks away, the attacks highlight the challenges Turkey is facing as it struggles with ethnic friction, an ongoing migrant crisis, and growing tensions with Russia. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Afghanistan’s Progress Aided by US Academic Center

Recent combat in Afghanistan has shifted world attention back to the central Asian nation’s continuing civil war and economic challenges. But, while there are many vexing problems facing Afghanistan’s government and people, a group of academics in Omaha, Nebraska has kept a strong faith in the nation’s future through programs to improve education. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Omaha, Nebraska.

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 In 'He Named Me Malala,' Guggenheim Finds Normal in Extraordinary

Davis Guggenheim’s documentary "He Named Me Malala" offers a probing look into the life of 18-year-old Malala Yousafsai, the Pakistani teenager who, in 2012, was shot in the head by the Taliban for standing up for her right to education in her hometown in Pakistan's Swat Valley. Guggenheim shows how, since then, Malala has become a symbol not as a victim of brutal violence, but as an advocate for girls’ education throughout the world. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.

Video Paintable Solar Cells May Someday Replace Silicon-Based Panels

Solar panels today are still factory-manufactured, with the use of some highly toxic substances such as cadmium chloride. But a researcher at St. Mary’s College, Maryland, says we are close to being able to create solar panels by painting them on a suitable surface, using nontoxic solutions. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs