Indonesia Roles in South China Sea Dispute Settlement

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Prof. Dr. Makarim Wibisono (left) during presentation in Wednesday discussion in FISIP UNAIR (Photo: UNAIR NEWS)

UNAIR NEWS – South China Sea (LCS) is a strategic territory, if there is a dispute for it, it will bring negative effects for ASEAN countries. It was stated by Prof. Dr. Makarim Wibisono in Wednesday discussion entitled “Posisi Indonesia dan Peran ASEAN dalam Konflik Laut Cina Selatan (Indonesia position and ASEAN roles in South China Sea conflict)” in Adi Sukadana Hall, FISIP UNAIR, Wednesday June 1.

“Conflict area’s natural resources such as fisheries or minerals can be exploited by any countries who claim it. South East Asian countries generally wanted LCS to be a peaceful territory,” said the professor on International Relations (HI) UNAIR.

Prof Makarim also regretted the unclear accurate coordinates of this nine dash line (nine points claimed by China in South China Sea) while according to international law, every claims made to a territory should have clear locations.

“There is no clarity regarding its latitude and longitude,” he said.

In the discussion, the man who assumed Head Commissioner of United Nations’ Human Rights reminded the conflict’s consequences to ASEAN. Besides it will lower FDI (Foreign Direct Invesment) interest to invest in ASEAN countries, it will cause military power competition, so it will distract the economical power and invite big countries to extend their influences.

“It will make countries with less military power to create alliance with big countries,” said the Indonesian Ambassador for UN term 2004-2007.

In LCS dispute, Prof. Makarim elaborated that the sides in dispute want ASEAN countries to pick a side. Prof. Makarim gave an example from KTT ASEAN, Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs, Wang Yi, met Minister of Foreign Affairs of Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar to talk about the dispute and The USA discussed it with the Philippines.

The conflict effects and Indonesia’s Roles

Prof Makarim explained, even though the conflict was categorized as conflict of ideas, Indonesia is expected to support peace settlement. It will bring conducive climate in reaching an agreement.

If it fails, it will be fatal. First, it will affect commercial traffic and economy of Indonesia with partner countries, such as export destination or even the investing countries. Second, South East Asia including Indonesia will become unstable territory. Third, if it becomes a physical conflict, there will be more intervention from big countries.

“Because it is a conflict area, the big countries want guarantee to get free access to LCS. For example if tankers or exporting ships from the USA cannot go through the sea, they will have to go round Africa and it will be more costly and it makes them to make efforts to avoid situation which disrupts the traffic,” he added.

According to Prof. Makarim, Indonesia can be an ideal leader for ASEA which is still potential to push for peace settlement. There are three reasons for that, first, Indonesia still has its conducive position not a Claimant State like Malaysia, Brunei or Vietnam. Second, Indonesia is the biggest country in ASEAN.

“Indonesia is the biggest in ASEAN, either the population, territory or even Gross Domestic Product(GDP),” said the professor born onMay 8 1947.

While the third reason was historical value, Indonesia was not categorized by bipolar system. Accordiing to Prof. Makarim, Indonesia should encourage the claiming countries to be active in the Code of Conduct formulation.

“If there’s Code of Conduct, there will be a reference to settlement, because code of conduct is about what can and can’t be done. So we have a legal reference to create peace over the South China Sea,” he said. (*)

Author :  Dilan Salsabila
Editor    : Nuri Hermawan

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