Jokowi vows to de­fend ‘ev­ery inch’ of ter­ri­tory

The Myanmar Times - - World -

PRES­I­DENT Joko “Jokowi” Wi­dodo pledged yes­ter­day to de­fend “ev­ery inch” of In­done­sia’s land and mar­itime ter­ri­tory, fol­low­ing clashes with Chi­nese ves­sels around its is­lands in the South China Sea.

In a state of the na­tion ad­dress, he also said In­done­sia was “ac­tively in­volved” in seek­ing a peace­ful so­lu­tion to the re­gional dis­pute about own­er­ship of is­lands in the sea.

Mr Jokowi’s un­der­scor­ing of In­done­sia’s sovereignty over the Natu­nas is­lands – and the re­source-rich wa­ters sur­round­ing them – comes at a time of high mar­itime ten­sions be­tween Bei­jing and Jakarta af­ter re­peated clashes there.

“We are de­vel­op­ing re­gions like En­tikong, Natuna, and Atam­bua so the world can see that In­done­sia is a big coun­try, and ev­ery inch of its land and wa­ter is truly taken care of,” he said in an ad­dress which did not re­fer di­rectly to China.

En­tikong and Atam­bua are remote In­done­sian ter­ri­to­ries bor­der­ing Malaysia and Ti­mor Leste re­spec­tively.

His com­ments come as Jakarta pre­pares to mark In­de­pen­dence Day cel­e­bra­tions to­day by scut­tling dozens of for­eign boats seized for il­le­gally fish­ing in In­done­sian wa­ters.

The gov­ern­ment has pre­vi­ously said that Chi­nese ships would be among those scut­tled.

The sink­ing in May of a large Chi­nese ves­sel ship caught fish­ing il­le­gally around the Natu­nas drew a sharp re­buke from Bei­jing.

Un­like sev­eral of its South­east Asian neigh­bours, In­done­sia has long main­tained it has no mar­itime dis­putes with China in the South China Sea and does not con­test own­er­ship of any ter­ri­tory there.

But Bei­jing’s claims over­lap In­done­sia’s ex­clu­sive eco­nomic zone – wa­ters where a state has the right to ex­ploit re­sources – around the Natu­nas. There has been a rise in clashes there be­tween In­done­sian navy boats and Chi­nese fish­ing ves­sels and coast guards.

In his wide-rang­ing ad­dress Mr Jokowi also warned that In­done­sia must re­spect hu­man rights or risk fail­ing to be­come a “pro­duc­tive, de­vel­oped, or win­ning” coun­try. –

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