IBRAHIM ISA'S – FOCUS
Thursday, 20 January, 2011
On ASEAN – CHINA RELATION
-- Indonesia set to play key role in S. China Sea row
-- Breakthrough needed on S. China Sea talks:
-- China remains ASEAN booster despite slower growth
-- Bipolarity is back
INDONESIA SET TO PLAY KEY ROLE IN S.CHINA SEA ROW
Thursday, January 20, 2011
Lilian Budianto, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Wed, 09/22/2010
As next year’s ASEAN chair, Jakarta is expected to help solve the dispute between ASEAN states and China in the South China Sea following the tensions with the US.
The South China Sea dispute could become a major flashpoint between China and ASEAN as the latter has welcomed a US role in contested sovereignty claims between Beijing and ASEAN countries.
Reuters reported that the second ASEAN-US Summit in Washington may produce a joint statement that highlights China’s aggressive stance in the waters claimed by the ASEAN members of Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam.
Indonesia — a non-participant in the dispute — welcomed that the US play a role in resolving these disputes during the visit of Defense Minister Robert Gates to Jakarta. This US involvement has upped the stakes in these South China Sea disputes amid tensions arising between Beijing and Washington over currency, human rights and arms sales to Taiwan.
Sumadi Brotodiningrat, a seasoned diplomat, said Indonesia would act on behalf of ASEAN to make sure that these conflicts were solved amicably.
He shied away from possiblities that Jakarta or ASEAN members might take any new positions that would harm relations with China and beyond what has been agreed under the 2002 agreement on peaceful cooperation in the South China Sea.
“New statements you see recently are actually the reinforcement of the 2002 agreement,” he said.
Vietnam, as the current chairman of ASEAN, have reportedly mobilized others for its own cause in the has South China Sea but experts said Indonesia has also its own interest: Which is to make sure these disputes will not affect regional stability.
The 2002 agreement has stated that ASEAN nations would meet among themselves before they speak to China although China prefers to talk bilaterally with each claimant. Now, the conflicts may get more complicated as ASEAN members are looking to allow the US a role in solving these disputes, which may come under the auspices of the ASEAN Regional Forum or the expanded East Asia Summit (EAS).
EAS, a 16-strong grouping that has already brought together ASEAN along with Japan, China, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and India, is set to welcome new members of the US and Russia next year.
A professor at Peking University, who talked to The Jakarta Post Tuesday at a forum to mark the 60th anniversary of relations between Indonesia and China, said Beijing has no major concerns with the proposed US membership of the EAS.
“We have seen that EAS is not a forum that can look into particular issues and it will remain that way,” he said.
The US is reportedly looking forward to make the EAS a strategic forum to discuss political and security issues — a move that could peturb China as it would like to keep the EAS in the second tier of diplomacy.
Indonesia, which first announced welcoming the US into the EAS earlier this year after a period of reluctancy, has yet to reveal what plans it has for the expanded EAS and how it would try to accommodate both China and the US at the same table.
When asked about how China would expect Jakarta to play its role in the dispute, the Chinese expert said: “We have to see first what is the interest of the US in the South China Sea and I believe no one has thought through any options yet so far”.z
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Post Comments | Comments (1)
R.M.Deshmukh, Nagpur (India ) | Tue, 28/09/2010 - 16:09pm
Mr. Lilian Budiano, you are a very good writer.You have rightly pointed out that The Republic of Indonesia will have to play a very very important role in the ongoing dispute between a block of four ASEAN countries viz.Vietnam, Malaysia,Phillipines and Bruney on one side and their major rival China on the other side. That job is going to be a very tough job for Indonesia.The greatest difficulty is that China has already proclaimed it's sovereignty on the entire South China sea Region.That was the greatest blunder commited by China . It is because of that unwanted proclamation of China that the four claimant countries in that region got frightened .The ASEAN countries immidiately formed a block and welcomed the entry of America to solve the problem. It is going to be a tough job for Indonesia to tacle hegemonist China and determined America on the same table.
BREAKTHROUGH NEEDED ON S. CHINA SEA TALKS
Thursday, January 20, 2011
The Jakarta Post | Mon, 01/17/2011 11:20 AM | Special Report
ASEAN countries will add another forum of talks to speed up the process to create guidelines in the dispute over competing claims in the South China Sea after nine years of working group level talks failed to create significant results.
Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said after chairing a retreat meeting with ASEAN foreign ministers here Sunday that the grouping needed to find another way to move forward the stalled South China Sea issue by engaging senior officials in the working group discussions and directly talks about the code of conduct.
“We discussed this issue in great detail, reinforcing ASEAN’s common position as reflected in the declaration of code of conduct on the South China Sea issue together with China, and reinforcing that this is an issue that
must progress in the immediate future,” he said.
Marty said the discussion on the guidelines should not hamper the willingness to create a peaceful region.
“We have to see the big picture, so a breakthrough is necessary,” he said.
The working group has discussed the guidelines for the implementation of a declaration of code of conduct in the South China Sea since 2002.
The guidelines are supposed to be used as a basis for the code of conduct.
But several sticking points remain — including whether the guidelines are to be used as a point of settlement for any conflict or just a mere declaration without a legally binding impact — hampering the progress of the two parties in concluding negotiations.
Marty, however, did not comment on other alternatives to the issue, but acknowledged that the South China Sea issue was a major problem for the region and the world, with four ASEAN countries, China and the US embroiled.
China has been at loggerheads with Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei over the control of the Spratly and Paracel Islands in the South China Sea for decades.
The Obama administration is exploiting the issue to foster divisions in ASEAN and undermine China’s growing regional influence.
A third of the world’s maritime trade, including vital energy supplies for China and Japan, pass through the South China Sea.
Of China’s 39 sea lanes, 21 pass through the region, accounting for 60 percent of Chinese foreign trade.
Also, 60 percent of ships passing through the neighboring Strait of Malacca are Chinese, carrying 80 percent of China’s imported oil from the Middle East and Africa.
China is well aware of the Pentagon’s strategy of controlling key naval “choke points” as a means of depriving a potential enemy of vital supplies.
China has begun to beef up its own navy to protect key trade routes. It has a submarine base on Hainan Island, adjacent to the South China Sea, where it houses its ballistic missile submarines — a major component of its nuclear arsenal.
China’s first aircraft carrier, which is now under construction, will reportedly be deployed as part of its South China Sea fleet.
The sensitivity of the area was highlighted in March last year when a flotilla of small Chinese vessels confronted the US naval spy ship Impeccable, which was stationed near Hainan Island, monitoring Chinese submarines and mapping the sea floor
CHINA REMAINS ASEAN BOOSTER DESPITE SLOWER GROWTH
Mustaqim Adamrah, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Sat, 01/15/2011
China, the world’s second-largest economy, will remain a place for ASEAN countries to cling to in growing the region’s economy although the giant will work at a slower pace this year.
“China’s economic growth will decline from 10 percent last year to 8.5 percent this year, but it will remain high,” Standard Chartered Bank senior economist Fauzi Ichsan told The Jakarta Post on Friday.
“That growth will trigger imports from and infrastructure development projects in ASEAN countries, especially Indonesia and the Philippines.”
In an attempt to cool inflation and surging housing prices, China is lowering its growth from 10 percent in 2010 to 8.5 percent this year by winding down its stimulus and tightening credit, the World Bank said Thursday.
Still, strong Chinese demand for raw materials and components should buoy exports by its Asian neighbors, The Associated Press reported.
“China will remain the focal point of regional activity,” the Washington-based bank was quoted by AP as saying.
The bank’s forecasts for developing economies in East Asia and the Pacific include China, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Pacific Island nations Fiji and Vanuatu, AP reported.
Fauzi said Indonesia would continue benefiting from Chinese demand for the archipelago’s commodities — coal and natural gas, which remained high.
Indonesia, he said, would come second in the region in terms of this year’s economic growth, which would be at 6.5 percent — an increase from 6 percent last year, after Vietnam that is to expand from 6.7 percent last year to 7.2 percent this year.
Slower growth will be seen this year in Malaysia (5.1 percent from 6.8 percent last year), Thailand (4.4 percent from 6.3 percent), Singapore (4.6 percent from 14 percent) and the Philippines (5.4 percent from 7.2 percent), he said.
Danareksa Research Institute chief researcher Purbaya Yudhi Sadewa said Indonesia could still reap profits from growing China despite the latter’s slower economic growth as it would remain Indonesia’s main export destination.
And for ASEAN, “For sure with the ACFTA [ASEAN-China Free Trade Agreement] in place, the Chinese market is now more open to [ASEAN countries],” he said.
Currency Management Group director Fahrial Anwar said with China’s growth spurring ASEAN, the situation in the bloc would be conducive for investors, most importantly, in the real sector.
“China is implementing a good policy by tightening credit to keep it from trouble. This can help ASEAN’s economy stay safe from economic tremors because China is still deemed as the main driver of ASEAN’s growth,” he said.
Editorial: BIPOLARITY IS BACK
The Jakarta Post | Thu, 01/20/2011
Indonesia and its ASEAN partners must prepare themselves for the rapidly changing economic, security and strategic environments in Southeast Asia and the rest of Asia following the visit of Chinese President Hu Jintao to Washington this week.
A lot of expectations have been placed on this visit, and President Barack Obama is under mounting pressure to make demands on his guest. Whatever the two leaders agree or disagree on, the visit will transform the Sino-US relationship in big ways, and consequently international relations as well.
Strategic experts are already calling this the beginning of a cold war, recognizing the rising economic and military power of China vis-à-vis the United States. Although the two are not equal yet, Washington is clearly concerned with losing its pre-eminence, and wants to see China take on a greater responsibility, commensurate with its rising strength in the economic and political realms.
China is essentially still a developing country but its GDP makes it the second largest economy in the world after the US. China is therefore caught in a dilemma of dealing with the challenges facing a developing country and the need to take on the responsibilities of a developed country.
There will be occasions when China’s national interests come into conflict with its global responsibilities, at least as perceived by others, such as securing its territory, access to economic resources or in managing its currency. How China resolves this dilemma is for the Chinese Communist Party leadership to decide, but this should not preclude well meaning friends from reminding it of its impacts on the rest of the world and the subsequent responsibilities.
It is clear that both sides will be seeking to benefit from this landmark visit. Obama will likely press Hu on the question of the Chinese currency, its influence over North Korea and, as is now required by law in its foreign policy conduct, China’s records on human rights and freedom. For Hu, high on his agenda is gaining Washington’s recognition of China’s global power stature. Hu will also be speaking on behalf of most Asian countries when he presses Obama to resolve the domestic economic problems by urging Americans to make greater sacrifices.
The visit may not end with the two leaders resolving their differences, but it will certainly set the tone in the relationship between the global powers. The rest of the world will have to make adjustments accordingly. We are now moving away from a unipolar world back to a bipolar world, requiring Indonesia once again to row between two reefs as in the old Cold War days.
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