Indonesia President asserts involvement in South China Sea dispute

Indonesia President Joko Widodo also called for police and judicial reform to boost legal certainty in Southeast Asia's biggest economy.

By: Reuters | Jakarta | Published: August 16, 2016 10:07 am
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Indonesia is actively involved in resolving territorial disputes in the South China Sea, President Joko Widodo said in a prepared state address on Tuesday. An arbitration court in the Hague last month ruled that China had no historic title over the busy waterway and had breached the Philippines’ sovereign rights there. The decision infuriated Beijing, which dismissed the court’s authority.

“Indonesia continues to be actively involved in conflict resolution in the South China Sea through peaceful negotiations after,” Widodo said, referring directly to the ruling. “We continue to push for peaceful resolutions to international conflicts,” he said in a speech marking Indonesia’s independence day, which falls on Wednesday. Widodo also called for police and judicial reform to boost legal certainty in Southeast Asia’s biggest economy.

Tensions have been escalating in the South China Sea row with countries like Japan and Philippines asking China to respect the rule of law while dealing with maritime disputes. Japan and China are locked in a long-running dispute over uninhabited islets in the East China Sea, while the Manila and Beijing have overlapping claims in the South China Sea.

China has been accused of militarising uninhabited islands in the South China Sea. The United States has urged China and other claimants not to militarize their holdings in the South China Sea. China has repeatedly denied doing so, saying the facilities were for civilian and self-defence uses, and in turn criticized US patrols and exercises for ramping up tensions in the region.

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