May 10, 2023
JAKARTA – President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo said in an interview on Monday that Indonesia and other ASEAN countries wanted a peaceful South China Sea and rejected any unfounded claims by any country to the body of water.
In an interview with the New Straits Times on the eve of the ASEAN Summit in Labuan Bajo, East Nusa Tenggara, Jokowi maintained that the key to creating a stable, peaceful and prosperous South China Sea was adherence to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
“All claims that have no basis should not take place. As such, we have the key. Obey the international law,” he said.
China has laid claim to the area within a U-shaped “nine-dash line” that includes swaths of Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ), as well as the Paracel Islands and Spratly Islands. It also overlaps with the EEZs of Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.
A tribunal at The Hague on a suit brought by the Philippines ruled in 2016 that China had no “historic title” over the waters and that its line was superseded by the 1982 UNCLOS.
Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam have challenged China’s claim to about 90 percent of the sea.
In the Monday interview, Jokowi also maintained that ASEAN would not be a proxy of China or any other country.
“For Indonesia in its leadership of ASEAN, we do not want ASEAN to be anyone’s proxy. It cannot be a proxy for another nation. ASEAN by nature is open and inclusive,” he said.