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Indonesia’s Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said that we will “continue to uphold our principles” against the Communist Party state over their military claims. China, which has for years been locked in maritime disputes with other coastal states in the South China Sea, has in recent months boosted its presence and held exercises in disputed parts of the strategic waterway, at a time when other claimants are battling coronavirus outbreaks.
The United States has accused China of bullying its neighbours, while Beijing says Washington and its Western allies have been interfering and endangering security by sending naval vessels to the region.
Speaking this week, Ms Marsudi stressed whilst China was being cooperative with the country on developing, she said it wouldn’t change their stance on the South China Sea.
When asked if the ongoing vaccine development would affect the nation’s position on the disputed waters, she replied to Channel News Asia: “I can answer firmly, as firmly as possible. No.
“Those are two different things and when we work together, it is not cooperation that is unequal which only benefits one party, in this case, Indonesia.”
“But Chinese companies and China as a country, also enjoy the fruits or benefits of this cooperation. It’s a two-way benefit.”
The Indonesian Foreign Minister referred to an incident where a Chinese coastguard vessel was spotted inside the country’s territory, raising suspicions about its intentions.
Indonesia’s maritime security agency said the vessel entered Indonesia’s 200-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) off the northern Natuna islands last month.
She added to the Channel: “If the purpose is to exercise its claim with the nine-dash line, of course, it cannot be justified.
“But after we communicated, through diplomatic channels, the vessel then moved.
“I believe this will not be the last time that it happens. Maybe it will happen again.
“And we will continue to communicate, we will continue to uphold our principles as we said earlier.”
Referring to wider foreign relations with countries, she slated suggestions the country would just work with China.
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She said: “Therefore, I can confirm that it is wrong if there is a perception that Indonesia only goes to China.
“No, we are trying to cooperate with all countries because apart from the many sources, there are many needs.
“And in Indonesian politics, it is clear that we are free and active and will not side with one bloc against the other. It’s very clear.
“And this is manifested in all of our policies.”
Meanwhile, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s South China Sea policy is becoming less conciliatory towards China following a number of statements emphasizing the Philippines’ extensive maritime dispute with Beijing.
However, the President has tried to address growing pressure from within his administration to revitalize the country’s security cooperation with the United States against the need to preserve his country’s economic ties with Beijing.
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