The governments of Japan and Indonesia agreed on Wednesday to step up coordination in the defense sector in the coming months in a bid to counter Chinese aggression in the Indo-Pacific region, Kyodo News reported.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Indonesian President Joko Widodo met in Tokyo on July 27 for bilateral talks, a day after Widodo met dictator Xi Jinping in China.
Detailing the highlights of the meeting, Kyodo News relayed:
The two leaders affirmed bilateral defense cooperation, with Japan’s Ground Self-Defense Force set to join a multinational joint exercise in Indonesia in August for the first time, Kishida said at a joint press conference with Widodo. after the meeting.
They pledged to intensify coordination to realize a free and open Indo-Pacific, with Japan pledging to strengthen maritime security in the region in response to China’s assertive posture and military buildup.
The deal with Japan is likely to strain relations with China, as cooperation with Japan by a country in the South China Sea will likely be seen as a sign of concern over colonization of the region by the Chinese Communist Party. Widodo nevertheless underlined the supposedly friendly relations with China during his meeting with Xi.
China is Indonesia’s global strategic partner. We must fill this partnership with cooperation that is beneficial for our country, and at the same time for the region and the world”, Widodo Told Xi during their bilateral talks, as quoted by Singapore’s Channel News Asia (CNA).
The Chinese state enterprise world times seemed to offer its own version of the same quote from Widodo on July 27. The newspaper published by the Chinese Communist Party wrote that Widodo Told Xi, “Indonesia will work with China to continue to deepen their comprehensive strategic partnership and make an even greater contribution [sic] regional peace and global development.
China has stepped up its belligerent activity in the Indo-Pacific region in recent months. This activity includes Beijing’s regular deployment of naval, coastguard and fishing vessels in Japanese territorial waters, as well as its penetration Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) through aggressive Air Force detachments.
Indonesia was forced to defend its territorial waters to Chinese vessels on several occasions in recent years. Widodo in January 2020 broke his usual stance of trying to appease China when he LEDs an unofficial naval “standoff” against Beijing in the waters of the Natuna Islands in northern Indonesia. The dispute arose after a Chinese coastguard vessel accompanied by a fleet of illegal Chinese fishing boats refused to leave the territory.
“In an unusually strong statement, President Joko Widodo told reporters: ‘There is no negotiation when it comes to our sovereignty,'” Reuters noted at the time.
Indonesia maintains economic and political ties with China through Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The Chinese government-funded program allows Beijing to fund infrastructure projects in developing or low-income countries. Beijing bases its BRI projects on dodgy loan structures that often drive already indebted countries even more indebted to the Chinese Communist Party.
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