News / Asia

Indonesian FM Stresses Need for Dialogue on South China Sea

Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa, September 28, 2012.
Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa, September 28, 2012.
Kate Lamb
After a year of tension involving maritime territorial disputes in Asia, Indonesia's foreign minister is stressing the need for more dialogue - especially with recent political transitions in Washington and Beijing and new administrations possible in Seoul and Tokyo.
After the Association of Southeast Asian Nations failed to reach a broad consensus on a framework for resolving disputes in the South China Sea, regional countries have been adopting their own policies to address the uncertainty.  

The Chinese province of Hainan recently announced that it would allow the interception of ships in the contested area. China also created controversy when it issued passports with a map that includes the disputed territories as Chinese land.
The moves generated a backlash in Vietnam and the Philippines and now India is also weighing in.
The Indian Navy has suggested it is prepared to defend its joint oil interests from Chinese aggression.
A key mediator in the regional maritime power play, Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa says that adopting a set of guidelines is now more important than ever.
"We are seeing a lot of political transitions in capitals in our region, of course the United States has gone through its political transition period,  as well in China. And soon enough, we will have elections in Japan, in Korea so it is a state of flux, of course not just between countries, but within those concerned as well. So we need to have to some kind of certainty, some benchmark," Natalegawa explained. "A code of conduct by which we can address issues of common interest within our region."
Natalegawa has consistently rallied regional leaders to agree to a code of conduct.
But, when the proposal was rejected at the ASEAN summit this November, analysts said Indonesia had overestimated its diplomatic clout.
Acknowledging that talk of norms and guidelines has led to some pre-preemptive moves on the ground and at sea, the foreign minister says he is confident about the region’s future.
He argues that decades of regional stability have led to a clear economic dividend - one that is in the interests of all parties to maintain.
But Aleksius Jemadu, dean of global affairs at Jakarta’s Pelita Harapan University says that convincing China will be no easy task. 

"The problem is can you persuade China to part of it or to be committed to it when it has to emphasize its strategic interests, that is the problem," said Jemadu. "First it is about strategic interests, the continuation of energy security for China, second is about territorial integrity. Third is about pride as a new superpower. China is not going to be bullied again by other major powers.”
ASEAN members Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan, and the Philippines, all claim parts of the energy-rich sea. But China maintains that is has sovereignty over almost the entire sea.
Home to some of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, the South China Sea is also believed to be rich in oil and gas.

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Comment Sorting
by: bryc from: islamabad
December 11, 2012 7:06 AM
Taiwan is a province of china.

by: TruLeaf from: Canada
December 11, 2012 12:06 AM
Not only do all members of ASEAN need to have a broad consensus, the whole world should speak with one voice against this ever growing aggression from China. If China has convincing evidence for their territorial claims, give them to the international community and let them decide. As mighty as the Nazi once was, still it was brought to its knees by a united world and China should take a page from the history and abandon its rapacious appetite for world hegemony. The people of China should realize that Zhongnanhai is taking them down to the dangerous path of nationalism, war and destruction and do something about it. Make sure there won’t be another version of pastor Martin-Niemöller's:

First they came for the Paracels/ Spratlys,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Vietnamese

Then they came for the Scaborough Shoal,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Filipino

Then they came for the Senkaku,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Japanese

Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak for me.


December 10, 2012 6:16 PM
It is a waste of time talking to or persuading China to agree to some Codes of Conduct because that would legally restrict them in their attempts to seize by force land and sea areas which are under other countries' administration. Any appeal for dialogue to China would be seen as sign of weakness and fears. With America still too reluctant to get involved and ASEAN countries too divided, China knew it could terrorise and intimidate its neighbours into submission. An increasingly powerful and assertive China who has no respect for laws and reasons,but plenty of war tendencies,is a threat to all mankind. With America untrustworthy as proven since the Vietnam war, South East Asia's future could only be secured by a South East Asian Treaty Organisation like NATO with India and Japan at the helm. A more assertive and resolute Japan and India would be beneficial to world stability and an effective deterrence to China's territorial ambitions
In Response

by: Quintus from: China
December 11, 2012 10:20 AM
I think that maybe you dont understand Chinese culture and people as Chinese people know yours. nobody wants to start a war besides China, the people there wish peaceful and stable life. Chinese want to be friends with the people all over the word. If you have more acquaintance about Chinese people, maybe you will change your mind. Because of my poor English, i cant state my idea deeply and clearly.
In Response

by: Kamikaze from: Japan
December 11, 2012 5:34 AM
Every country must be aware of Chinese aggression not only by its military forces but also by its economical trap. China makes a tender face in front of countries in distress, offering bubble money to lure them; however, once China succeeds to win them around to its side, it makes a monstrous face. By that time, China has robbed the countries of all resources including lands. U.S, Japan, and other countries must unite to eliminate this monstrous country, i.e., Communist China, from the world.
In Response

by: Ian from: USA
December 10, 2012 9:00 PM
A very wise comment .
I agree that the best time to deal with any future potential problem for the southeast asian countries & Japan is to join force now instead hoping for a better behaviour from the agressor . It will only gets worse .

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