Indonesia has invited officials in charge of maritime security from Vietnam and other countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to meet early next year to discuss how to respond to China’s assertiveness in the South China Sea.
The head of the Indonesian Maritime Security Agency (Bakamla), Vice Admiral Aan Kurnia, was quoted by Indonesian media as saying that he had invited his counterparts from Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Vietnam to attend a meeting. meeting in February 2022 to “Share experiences and promote friendship” among countries facing similar challenges from China.
Maritime authorities from six countries participated in the ASEAN Coast Guard Forum last October, signaling their readiness to cooperate in this area, according to Benar News.
The Jakarta Post quoted Aan Kurnia as saying that it was important to “take a coordinated approach” on issues related to the South China Sea, and “how to respond on the ground when we face the same disorder problems.” However, he did not mention China by name.
The above proposal of the leader of the Indonesian Maritime Security Agency was responded to by many experts and senior officials of the countries along the South China Sea.
Thomas Daniel, a research fellow at the Malaysian Institute of Strategy and International Studies (ISIS), said Jakarta’s proposal was “bold and very concerning,” according to Benar News.
Satya Pramata, a senior official in the Indonesian government and a former captain in the coast guard, said such a meeting would be a “great opportunity for the ASEAN Coast Guard and the maritime law enforcement forces to promote exchanges and cooperation.”
Vietnamese media has not yet announced Bakamla’s invitation to this meeting. It is also unclear if Vietnam will confirm it will attend.
However, the maritime security relationship between Indonesia and Vietnam has made significant progress when the two countries have just signed a Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation in maritime security and safety. This is known as a step forward in resolving the overlapping exclusive economic zone (EEZ) disputes in the South China Sea.
The Antara news agency quoted Vice Admiral Aan Kurnia, Commander of the Indonesian Coast Guard, as saying that this memorandum of understanding will strengthen the existing partnership between the two countries. “It is hoped that with this Memorandum of Understanding, bilateral cooperation between the two agencies can continue to improve in maintaining maritime security and safety in the region,” Mr. Aan Kurnia said after signing the document. cooperate.
Aan Kurnia said that the six priority areas of cooperation are improving maritime safety and security capacity, holding talks between the two coast guard forces, and exchanging information and communication. Other priority areas are search and rescue operations and crime prevention at sea, porting, and law enforcement including the eradication of illegal fishing activities.
The People’s Army website quoted Major General Le Quang Dao, Commander of the Vietnam Coast Guard, as saying that this memorandum is a tool, corridor, and mechanism for the two sides to enhance mutual understanding and practical and effective cooperation, well-resolved cases at sea, is an important milestone opening a deeper and more comprehensive cooperation chapter in the relationship between the two sides, contributing to preserving the sea in the peaceful region. peace, stability, friendship, cooperation, and development.
“The Memorandum of Understanding officially marks the beginning of a close and comprehensive cooperation relationship between the two sides since the signing of the Letter of Intent on enhancing cooperation in August 2017,” the People’s Army website wrote.