Indonesia wants to stay away from South China Sea conflicts

Indonesia wants to stay away from  South China Sea conflicts

Chinese dredging vessels are purportedly seen in the waters around Fiery Cross Reef in the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea in this still image from video taken by a P-8A Poseidon surveillance aircraft provided by the United States Navy May 21, 2015. (Reuters/U.S. Navy)

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Coordinating Minister for Law Security and Political Affairs Wiranto has said Indonesia does not want to be involved in South China Sea conflict.

Indonesia hopes that no country would ignite fire in that conflict area, Wiranto said on the sidelines of the 32nd summit conference of ASEAN in Singapore on Saturday.

He denied suggestion about Indonesia`s involvement in the South China Sea conflict, saying, "I said there is no conflict. There is no border problem with any other country."

He said the spirit of self restraints from involvement in conflict is important to keep peace and security prevailing in South China Sea.

He called on all countries having direct interest in South China Sea to observe the Code of Conduct (CoC) designed to preserve peace in the region although it has not yet been fully agreed upon.

"Indonesia continues to push for agreement on CoC in any ASEAN forum or in any bilateral meeting with countries involved," he said.

He said he believed no country wants the conflict to drag on that would hurt all involved.

He said he was confident dialogs and bilateral approaches could resolve the South China Sea disputes.

The South China Sea disputes over islands and maritime claims involve a number of countries including China, Taiwan, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam.

Despite claim by Wiranto denying Indonesia involvement in the conflict, Beijing has disputed Indonesia`s territorial sovereignty in the sea off Natuna in South China Sea.

"Indonesia is already a party to the disputes and the sooner it acknowledges this reality the better," Ian J. Storey, a senior fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore, was quoted as saying.

Following incident in 2016 when Indonesian warships seized a Chinese fishing boat and its crew in the Natuna waters, Jakarta began beefing up its military presence in that area, expanding its naval port to accommodate bigger ships and lengthening the runway at its air force base there.

Indonesia wants to assert control over a waterway that has abundant natural resources, particularly oil and natural gas reserves and fish stocks. Natuna has one of the world`s biggest gas reserves.

Only a few days earlier, Indonesian Military Chief Air Chief Marshall Hadi Tjahjanto said 2,000 soldiers would be moved mainly from Java to the Natuna islands.

The deployment of military personnel, marines or combat troops would start with artillery battalion, radar units and marines, Hadi said after a working visit to the border area.

The military is building a new port, helicopter hangar and a hospital,he said, adding, the facilities are expected to be commissioned in mid May, 2019.

Parliament Speaker Bambang Soesatyo, who accompanied the country`s military chief on the working visit, expressed approval for military build-up in the border area.

"The facilities are needed to strengthen the country`s defense and security against possible foreign intervention," Bambang said.

Big Powers, China and the United States have indicated strong interest in the Natuna border.

Therefore, the House of Representatives should discuss and consider raising defense budget for Natuna, he said. (AS).

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