Editorial: It's Time to Clear Up China's Natuna Claim


Regular Member
Apr 30, 2012
Editorial: It's Time to Clear Up China's Natuna Claim
By Jakarta Globe on 10:39 pm Mar 13, 2014

Indonesian diplomats have been trying to play down China's seriousness in claiming part of Indonesia's territory despite the fact that the Chinese government has issued passports that include an official map claiming part of Natuna Islands, which is part of Riau province.

But considering China's assertiveness in other parts of the South China Sea, the Indonesian Military (TNI) can no longer turn a blind eye to the possibility that China's posturing could lead to action on the ground.

For the first time on Wednesday, the TNI acknowledged the threat inherent in China's claim.

Gradually, Indonesia has been increasing its presence around Natuna as a precaution and to send a signal to China that it is not going to let itself be bullied. Now, it looks like it could be just a matter of time before Indonesia is dragged into the wider South China Sea tensions affecting other regional countries already.

History has shown that false perception can lead to conflict. In 1928, the American sociologist W.I. Thomas warned that "if men define situations as real, they are real in their consequences."

The perception of a Chinese threat in Indonesia and other countries in the region could have serious consequences. It will create instability in a region that is prone to conflict. A tiny miscalculation can lead to war, as all countries see territorial integrity as non-negotiable. It's too bad for Indonesia and China because their bilateral relations have never been better. Trade and investment as well as international cooperation are growing fast.

The only way to defuse the current tension is to talk. Indonesian and Chinese diplomats and also their leaders must quickly open communication and discuss a win-win solution to the problems.

With China already being seen by several Asean countries as a common enemy, a dispute with Southeast Asia's largest country is the last thing Beijing needs in this booming region.

Editorial: It's Time to Clear Up China's Natuna Claim

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