Indonesia has been negotiating with the Philippines to expedite the finalization of a long-pending code of conduct for the South China Sea. This strategic announcement was made during a joint press conference with Filipino counterpart Enrique Manalo in Manila, setting the stage for discussions ahead of Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s visit.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China have grappled with protracted negotiations to establish a framework for the South China Sea code of conduct, dating back to 2002. Despite collective commitments to advance the process, progress has been sluggish.
The South China Sea is a contentious region with overlapping territorial claims involving China and several ASEAN member states, namely Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam. China asserts its claims through the controversial “nine-dash line,” encroaching into the exclusive economic zones of neighboring countries. A 2016 ruling by an international arbitral tribunal invalidated a significant portion of China’s claims, a decision vehemently rejected by Beijing.
Foreign Minister Retno’s proactive stance signals Indonesia’s commitment to fostering regional cooperation in addressing the complexities of the South China Sea. The joint effort with ASEAN nations, particularly the Philippines, reflects a collective aspiration to bring about tangible progress in finalizing the code of conduct.
As Indonesia takes a leading role in this diplomatic initiative, the global community awaits further developments in the pursuit of a comprehensive and mutually agreed-upon framework for the South China Sea. The collaborative approach seeks to navigate the geopolitical challenges of the region and establish guidelines that promote stability, peace, and respect for international law.