Saturday, December 2, 2023

Indonesia Tells Beijing It Wants Actionable Code on South China Sea

Jayanty Nada Shofa
February 22, 2023 | 6:09 pm
Foreign Affairs Minister Retno Marsudi shakes hands with her Chinese counterpart Qin Gang in Jakarta on Feb. 22, 2023. (Photo Courtesy of Foreign Affairs Ministry)
Foreign Affairs Minister Retno Marsudi shakes hands with her Chinese counterpart Qin Gang in Jakarta on Feb. 22, 2023. (Photo Courtesy of Foreign Affairs Ministry)

Jakarta. ASEAN chair Indonesia recently told Beijing that it wanted an actionable code of conduct on the South China Sea to come out of the sluggish talks over the hotly contested area.

Chinese Foreign Affairs Minister Qin Gang on Wednesday made his first overseas visit to Jakarta since taking office in end-2022. Indonesia took this opportunity to bring China's attention to the code of conduct, also known as the CoC, which is expected to manage the tensions in the South China Sea.

“After a delay due to the Covid-19, we will resume the CoC negotiations, and also intensify the talks in person,” Foreign Affairs Retno Marsudi said at a joint presser with her Chinese counterpart in Jakarta on Wednesday.

“Indonesia and ASEAN wish to produce an effective, substantive, and actionable CoC,” Retno said.


According to Retno, Indonesia wishes to see a stable and peaceful South China Sea. She added, “respect to international law, in particular, the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea [Unclos] is key.”

Qin Gang shared a similar sentiment on accelerating the ASEAN-China code negotiations. China also pledged to work with the Southeast Asian bloc to implement the declaration of conduct (DoC) – a non-binding document inked by Beijing and ASEAN member states in 2002 to reduce conflict risks over the strategic waters.

Also, Qin Gang told the same presser that “both Indonesia and China as the littoral states to the South China Sea will work with other ASEAN countries to fully and effectively implement the DoC.”

“As well as to speed up consultations on the CoC to jointly safeguard the peace and stability in the South China Sea," the recently appointed minister said while adding that China sees ASEAN as a priority in its "neighborhood diplomacy".

When ASEAN foreign ministers assembled in Jakarta earlier this month, the Southeast Asian bloc agreed to intensify COC negotiations under Indonesia's chairmanship. This year's first series of the CoC talks are slated for March. 

Brunei, China, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam have overlapping claims in the South China Sea. 

In 1992, ASEAN countries issued a declaration highlighting the importance of a peaceful resolution of disputes over the waterway. A decade later, ASEAN and China inked the DoC that echoed a similar message. The DoC also called for the adoption of a code of conduct, but the document is still under negotiation to this day.

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