Indonesian Navy Conducts Major Exercise Amid South China Sea Tensions

Sandra Loyd

Indonesia is staging a major marine exercise today in the Java Sea and the South China Sea, the objected to waterway where tensions have actually increased recently in between China and the United States.

The Indonesian Navy’s Western Fleet held an exercise in the Java Sea on Wednesday as part of a series of drills by Southeast Asia’s biggest country that started on July 18 and are arranged to conclude Sunday, marine authorities stated. These will consist of an amphibious warfare exercise on the beach at Singkep, an island in Indonesia’s Riau chain in the South China Sea, they stated.

The program consists of sea fight simulations and 2,000 personnel, 26 warships, 19 airplane and 18 marine combat vehicles are participating in the drills, Naval Fleet Command I spokesperson Lt. Col. Fajar Tri Rohadi stated.

“At the fleet level, this is the most complex exercise, because there will be more exercises involving all naval units,” Fajar informed BenarNews on Wednesday. The day’s drills in the Java Sea consisted of troubleshooting activities, interactions, simulations of anti-submarine and surface area warfare, he stated.

“The exercises were designed to be just like real operations,” Naval Fleet I primary Back Adm. Ahmadi Heri Purwono stated, according to Viva, an Indonesian news website.

In other advancements associated with the defense of the island chain country’s coasts and territorial waters, the coast guard (Bakamla) revealed Wednesday that it had actually released the Indonesia Maritime Info Center (IMIC), which will release routine reports on the country’s maritime security.

Sending out a message

Beni Sukadis, a military observer at the Indonesian Institute for Defense and Strategic Researches, stated the drills become part of the nation’s efforts to assert its maritime sovereignty.

“Even though we don’t have many warships, we are showing that we have the determination to assert our sovereignty,” he informed BenarNews, an RFA-affiliated online news service

“In terms of capacity building and professionalism, routine exercises are necessary. It can be once or twice a year. It sends a message that the Navy is trying to improve its capacity,” he added.

According to the Global Fire Power ( GFP) 2019 report, Indonesia’s navy has 282 ships in its fleet, consisting of 7 frigates, 24 corvettes, 5 submarines and 156 patrol vessels. The Indonesian Navy has no airplane providers.

In mid-2019, the military branch performed a month-long exercise including 8,493 personnel in the Java Sea.

Indonesia is not a plaintiff in the South China Sea disagreement, which includes the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Vietnam– all fellow members of the ASEAN– together with China and Taiwan.

However in 2016 and late 2019, tensions flared in between Jakarta and Beijing over the existence of Chinese fishing boats swarming in South China Sea waters near Indonesia’s Natuna Islands, which lie in Riau Islands province.

Indonesia has declined China’s invite to hold talks on what Beijing called “overlapping claims of maritime rights and interests” in waters off the Natunas, which depend on the southern reaches of the South China Sea.

Beijing claims historical and fishing rights in parts of the sea that overlap Indonesia’s special financial zone (EEZ) however Indonesia declines this.

On the other hand recently, in the contested Paracel Islands, a chain declared by both China and Vietnam, 8 Chinese fighter jets showed up at Beijing’s secret military base in the location.

The airplane’s sighting accompanied another round of marine workouts Thursday including 2 U.S. attack aircraft carrier fight groups– the USS Nimitz and USS Ronald Reagan. The first maneuvers started on July 4 and lasted 6 days, the first such “dual carrier drill” by the U.S. in the South China Sea in a minimum of 4 years.

In a watershed declaration released previously this month, the United States strengthened its position on the South China Sea concern when U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated that America stood with its Southeast Asian allies “in protecting their sovereign rights to offshore resources.”

Pompeo consisted of Indonesia’s Natuna Islands in the declaration that branded Beijing’s claims to overseas resources throughout the majority of the South China Sea as “completely unlawful.”

The 2 competing superpowers have actually because traded spoken criticism over the South ChinaSea Beijing, through its embassy in Washington, reacted to Pompeo by implicating America of continuing to “interfere” in the South China Sea concern and “stirring up tension and inciting confrontation in the region” in addition to bending its muscles “under the pretext of preserving stability.”

In current days, apart from its public denunciation of Beijing’s claims and actions in the South China Sea, the United States has actually likewise performed a series of actions targeting China, consisting of sanctions over China’s imposition of extreme security laws in Hong Kong and over human rights abuses versus Muslim Uyghurs in Xinjiang.

Reported by BenarNews, an RFA-affiliated online news service.

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