Why there is no ‘new maritime dispute’ between Indonesia and China
In the last two weeks, there have been a number of articles circulating (including here, here, here and here) that Indonesia has formally recognised a territorial dispute with China in the South China Sea.
This discussion has originated from statements (see here, and here for example) attributed to Indonesian Navy Commodore Fahru Zaini, an assistant to the first deputy of the Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs (Menkopolhukam):
China has claimed Natuna waters as their territorial waters. This arbitrary claim is related to the dispute over Spratly and Paracel Islands between China and the Philippines. This dispute will have a large impact on the security of Natuna waters.
Commodore Zaini is also quoted as saying ‘…we have come to Natuna to see firsthand the strategic position of the TNI, especially in its ability, strength and its deployment of troops, just in case anything should happen in this region’.
Evan A. Laksmana is an non-resident fellow on security and defense at The German Marshall Fund.