Saturday, November 1, 2014

• China Must Avoid Destabilizing Asia: Indonesia Army Chief By Andrea Tan

By Andrea Tan 
 
China must not use its “great force” to create regional instability, Indonesian military chief General Moeldoko said, as his nation seeks to avoid being drawn into China’s territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

“China is a great economic superpower, however we don’t want this great force to create instability in the region,” Moeldoko, who goes by one name, said in a speech in Singapore yesterday. 
 
“Just a small disturbance within this maritime zone will give a big impact” and create turbulence in the region.
Newly inaugurated Indonesian President Joko Widodo faces a China that’s pushing its claims in the South China Sea with an aggressiveness unprecedented since Indonesia’s independence. 
 
For Jokowi, as he is known, ties with Xi Jinping loom as one of his biggest foreign-policy challenges.
Jokowi has said he wants to stop smuggling of Indonesia’s natural resources, including fish.

The president wants a network of drones to help monitor and stop misuse of resources across an archipelago of 17,000 islands that would stretch from New York to Alaska
 
“Drones are not only for the military but also for the economy, like for illegal logging,” Jokowi said in an interview July 21, in the period between his election and his inauguration last week.

“We have to protect the sea from piracy and also those who would encroach on our natural resources,” Moeldoko said. 
Indonesia’s defense forces has “hundreds of ships” to secure the country’s maritime lanes within its borders, he said.

Nine-Dash MapXi told Jokowi last week that China wants to strengthen its strategic partnership with Indonesia. 
In his first phone conversation with Jokowi, Xi said the two countries are “good neighbors and good friends,” China’s official Xinhua News Agency reported Oct. 24.

In passports issued in 2012, China’s nine-dash line map -- the area it claims in the South China Sea that overlaps with claims from countries such as Vietnam and the Philippines -- encroaches on the exclusive economic zone that Indonesia derives from the Natuna Islands, an area rich in natural gas.
Indonesia has been careful not to recognize the claim. 
In 2010, it made a statement to the same United Nations body to which China had submitted its map, saying China’s claim “clearly lacks international legal basis.” 
 
Then-foreign minister Marty Natalegawa said in an interview in April he wanted an explanation of China’s map and asked the UN to help obtain clarity.

Islamic StateThe economic imperative for Jokowi to have a stable relationship with China is high, as the nation overtook the U.S., Singapore and Japan in the past decade to become Indonesia’s largest trading partner with $50.9 billion of non-oil transactions last year, up from just $5 billion in 2003, official data show.

Regarding Islamic State, Moeldoko called the militant group operating in the Middle East the “worst idea in history.”
Indonesia has the world’s largest Muslim population.
Islamic State must be destroyed through collaboration, said Moeldoko, a Muslim. 
 
Indonesia -- which has had a history of militancy and has warned of the risk of locals traveling to Iraq and Syria to join Islamic State -- wants to seek a meeting of regional defense chiefs to deal with the group, he said.

Moeldoko called the Islamic State “a cancer.”