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Kamis, 23 Januari 2020 - 16:51:48 WIB
China, a Treacherous Friend
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Kategori: Melayu English - Dibaca: 67 kali

By Al Bahits

China has again started showing its true colours of untrustworthiness, hawkish, bullish and an unfaithful attitude in the South China Sea (SCS). Its encroachment of Indonesian waters in North Natuna Sea area, is the recent example of its treatment with its small and neighbouring countries.

Chinese fishing vessels guarded by China Coast Guard ships, trespassed into Indonesia's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) off the coast of the northern islands of Natuna. Indonesia protested to Beijing over the presence of Chinese Coast Guard vessels in its territorial waters near the disputed South China Sea, terming it a "violation of sovereignty". Indonesia rejects China's claims over a disputed part of the South China Sea as "having no legal basis". Indonesian Foreign Affairs Ministry summoned the Chinese ambassador in Jakarta and conveyed a strong protest regarding this incident.

A diplomatic note of protest has also been sent Indonesia's foreign ministry also sought clarification from China to explain the "legal basis and clear borders" regarding its claims on the EEZ, as based on the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

In SCS, most of the times, tensions start when China brushes aside the claims of smaller nations  urrounding the contested region in pursuit of political, economic and military dominance. However, some countries like Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines have now started resisting China, but separately.

Malaysia defied China with a statement calling Beijing's Nine-Dash Line waters claim as "ridiculous" and complained publicly of interference by the Chinese Coast Guard. During recent past, Vietnam stood firm over the right to use an oil rig within its UN-mandated waters. The Philippines moved to secure its Scarborough Shoal islands. Such moves of the SCS regional countries have encouraged the other nations to exercise the Freedom of Navigation against Beijing's claims to the South China Sea.

China has had particularly tense relations with Vietnam and the Philippines over islands in the region. Malaysia's stern comments come as the country follows the Philippines and more recently Vietnam, in taking a stand against China's relentless militarisation and encroachment of contested regions in the SCS. Malaysia has followed a similar route that the Philippines took to resist Chinese ships and oil vessels from dominating its waters.

Vietnam has taken a resolute stand against Beijing after a three month long standoff between a Chinese oil vessel and Vietnamese Navy. The vessel only left Vietnam's economic exclusion zone in October, 2019 and since then Hanoi has bolstered its defensive capabilities. A tiny country has shown exemplary courage and boldness to resist China. Vietnam is defending its UN-mandated territorial rights. China, as usual, has dismissed them. Despite the immense disparity between the two nations' economies and armed forces, Hanoi is not deterred. On the contrary, it has taken the lead among its Asian neighbours to assert its borders. For four months, Vietnam's tiny coast guard stood face-to-face against much larger Chinese vessels over the disputed Vanguard Bank oil and gas fields. President Nguyen Phu Trong clearly declared that Vietnam would never concede on the issues of sovereignty, independence, unification and territorial integrity.

Vietnam started to bolster its defence capabilities and received huge quantity of armaments from the foreign countries. The ASEAN members have now started reassessing their need and move against China. But, they have to understand that a united move is the only solution to keep away the treacherous adversary like China. This is not the matter of a military solution, but a united voice at all levels of all the ASEAN nations for a better and peaceful coexistence in the region and to show the right way to the hegemonic countries like China.

It requires some level of assertiveness, boldness and statesmanship to uphold the sovereignty of not only the individual state, but also the whole South Asian Region. Countries like Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand have started to realise that they cannot stand if they are alone, It will also help the individual government to take decisions, while dealing with the other countries, in such a manner that it could give a sense of fulfilment, satisfaction and self respect to every citizen of the country.

Besides a regional block of ASEAN, a good cooperation with the countries like Australia, Japan, South Korea and India, may also help to soften the bullying attitude of some select countries in the region. Expecting something good from China is a futile exercise now. The only way left for ASEAN countries is to act unitedly in a firm manner to keep up the integrity and sovereignty of the region. They would also have to reduce their economic dependence over China to be blackmailed later on.

Instead of taking loans in the name of economic development, governments should try for capacity development of the people and proper use of its existing resources. It should also diversify the help it takes from other countries, to reduce its dependence on any particular country. A sovereign nation does not mean only an independent nation. It also means that the country is capable of taking independent and bold decision to maintain its stand. In case of any emergency, how swiftly and best the resources can be utilised, can help the country.

It is very strange that none of the countries in ASEAN, has tried to reduce its economic dependence over China. On the other side, they happily and with open arms, accepted economic proposals to get into financial trap and please Chinese officials, completely unmindful of the fact that they are going into an economic trap. Later, the government is blackmailed.This is the most suitable time in front of the regional countries to think on this issue and make a peaceful life for the generations to come.

Jakarta January,23,2020


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