News / Asia

Indonesia Working to Soothe South China Sea Tensions

WASHINGTON — In all the anger over rival claims to the South China Sea, Indonesia has emerged as a voice of calm, working to mediate a dispute involving China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Malaysia.

Chinese patrols in waters that Vietnam and the Philippines also claim have heightened tensions in the mineral-rich South China Sea.

Vietnamese protestors condemn what they call a Chinese invasion over Beijing's decision to take bids for oil blocks off Vietnam's coast. Hanoi has passed a law claiming sovereignty over disputed islands.

The division is so deep it blocked a unified statement from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations for the first time in the group's history.

"The relationships between China and ASEAN countries are multidimensional. They should not be spoiled by the South China Sea issue," said ASEAN spokesman Danny Lee.

Into these troubled waters comes Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa, working to keep ASEAN from splitting.

"ASEAN continues to remain to be united, to be cohesive on all issues of common concern, not least, and especially on the issue of South China Sea," Natalegawa said.

From Phnom Penh to Manila to Bangkok to Hanoi, Natalegwa is pushing a regional framework to resolve the rival maritime claims.

"We do actually need a Code of Conduct for the South China Sea, some kind of rule of the road type of regime so that potential for conflicts in the region can be managed and, even more, betters the potential for conflict can (to) be resolved," Natalegawa said.

As Southeast Asia's biggest country, Indonesia's neutrality is helping cool some tempers.

"They really are sort of at the fulcrum of this, trying to remain in the center, wherever the center may be. I imagine that will continue going forward. Their status has really risen as a result of their diplomacy," said Justin Logan, who directs foreign policy studies at the U.S. Cato Institute.

Logan says Indonesian mediation is especially important as China opens a military garrison on an island Vietnam and Taiwan claim.

"And I do think that they (Indonesians) have remained sort of the anchor in the center as other countries have more or less drifted away from that center," Logan said.

Senior U.S. officials say Indonesia has been instrumental not only in keeping open prospects for talks over the South China Sea but also in encouraging Burma's military to enact political and economic reforms that helped to bring opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi to parliament.

You May Like

Video In Ukraine's Nikishino, No House Untouched by Fighting

Ninety percent of homes in one small village were damaged or destroyed as government forces failed to stop a rebel advance More

Pakistan’s 'Last Self-Declared Jew' Attacked, Detained

Argument about the rights of non-Muslims in Pakistan allegedly results in mob beating well-known Jewish Pakistani More

Turkey Cracks Down on Political Dissent, Again

People daring to engage in political dissent ahead of upcoming general elections could find themselves in jail More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Matthew from: Canada
August 03, 2012 1:54 AM
Thank you Indonesia.Now if only the world would cooperate together and benefit greatly instead of squabbling...

by: Lu Pet from: Beijing
August 02, 2012 9:53 PM
China also own Indonesia. We visited this country since ancient times. After we take the sea we will take your country. >: . You indonesian do not match Chinese.... Stop meddling on our affair...

by: Jonathan Huang from: canada
August 02, 2012 9:46 PM
Good job, seems China finally persuaded Indonesia to stand on her side. Two sides just agree to extend military drills and cooperation. With Cambodia and Indonesia's help plus Taiwan's, China can beat the crap out of Viets and Finos. Divide and rule is the gold strategy.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
In Their Own Words: Citizens of Kobanii
X
Mahmoud Bali
March 06, 2015 8:43 PM
Civilians are slowly returning to Kobani, after Kurdish fighters backed by coalition airstrikes fought off a four-month siege of the northern Syrian town by Islamic State militants. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Mahmoud Bali talked to some of those who have returned. We hear about the devastation of Kobani through their own words.
Video

Video In Their Own Words: Citizens of Kobani

Civilians are slowly returning to Kobani, after Kurdish fighters backed by coalition airstrikes fought off a four-month siege of the northern Syrian town by Islamic State militants. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Mahmoud Bali talked to some of those who have returned. We hear about the devastation of Kobani through their own words.
Video

Video In Ukraine's Nikishino, No House Untouched by Fighting

In the village of Nikishino, in eastern Ukraine, recent fighting has brought utter devastation. Ninety percent of the houses are damaged or destroyed after government forces tried and failed to stop rebels advancing on the strategically important town of Debaltseve nearby. Patrick Wells reports for VOA from Nikishino.
Video

Video Crime Scenes Re-Created in 3-D Visualization

Police and prosecutors sometimes resort to re-creations of crime scenes in order to better understand the interaction of all participants in complicated cases. A Swiss institute says advanced virtual reality technology can be used for quality re-creations of events at the moment of the crime. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Sierra Leone Ebola Orphans Face Another Crisis

There's growing concern about the future of an orphanage run by a British charity in Sierra Leone, after a staff member and his wife died this week from Ebola. The Saint George Foundation Orphanage in Freetown is now in quarantine, with more than 20 children and seven staff in lock-down. The BBC has agreed to share Ebola-related material with Voice of America because of the difficulties faced by media organizations reporting the crisis. Clive Myrie reports from Sierra Leone.
Video

Video Growing Concerns Over Whether Myanmar’s Next Elections Will Be Fair

Myanmar has scheduled national elections for November that are also expected to include a landmark referendum on the country's constitution. But there are growing concerns over whether the government is taking the necessary steps to prepare for a free and fair vote. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman was recently in Myanmar and files this report from our Southeast Asia bureau in Bangkok.
Video

Video Nigeria’s Ogonis Divided Over Resuming Oil Production

More than two decades ago, Nigeria’s Ogoni people forced Shell oil company to cease drilling on their land, saying it was polluting the environment. Now, some Ogonis say it’s time for the oil to flow once again. Chris Stein reports from Kegbara Dere, Nigeria.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More