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ASEAN Urged to Take Strong Stance Against China’s Provocations in the South China Sea

Jumat, 15 Desember 2023 – 17:52 WIB

Jakarta, December 15, 2023 – Tensions in the South China Sea (SCS) have escalated following an aggressive act by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) against the Philippines in their Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

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The incident, in which PRC vessels blocked and fired water cannons at a Philippine ship at Second Thomas Shoal (Ayungin Shoal), is the latest escalation in the dispute.

Johanes Herijanto, chairman of the Indonesian Sinology Forum, called on ASEAN to unite and take a stronger stance against the PRC. He said the aggressive act threatens regional stability and is in violation of international law, including the 2016 arbitral ruling that favored the Philippines in its territorial claim in the SCS.

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“ASEAN must unite and declare a strong stance against PRC provocation in the SCS. The Philippines, as the most pressured country and directly involved in the dispute, needs the full support of other ASEAN countries,” he said in a seminar held by the FSI on Thursday.

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Indonesian Ambassador to the Philippines Letnan Jenderal TNI (Purn) Agus Widjojo said that despite the escalation of tensions in the area, both sides will continue to exercise restraint and seek to resolve the conflict through diplomacy.

“The Philippines sees the importance of ASEAN unity and consolidation in resolving the territorial dispute in the SCS/WPS, which also involves Vietnam, Malaysia, and Brunei. The settlement of the Code of Conduct in the SCS is a top priority for the Philippines. However, it is not impossible that the escalation will increase to the point of war,” he said.

Meanwhile, Herijanto believes that neither the Philippines’ firm stance nor its efforts at friendship have stopped the PRC from its aggressive actions against the Southeast Asian country.

“That is why the Philippines is taking another step, which is to rely on the support of its allies, the United States, and other Western countries, as a forced step that the Philippines must take to defend itself against the provocation and aggressive actions of the PRC,” he said.

Experts also urged concrete steps from ASEAN. Ristian Atriandi Suprianto, an expert in international relations at the University of Indonesia, called for joint patrols by ASEAN countries in the SCS to prevent provocative actions by the PRC.

“We must put the Philippines as the most pressured side because it is one of the disputed countries and also part of ASEAN,” he said.

He also reminded that the involvement of outside countries such as the United States and Australia is a direct consequence of the PRC’s aggressive actions.

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Meanwhile, Herijanto believes that neither the Philippines’ firm stance nor its efforts at friendship have stopped the PRC from its aggressive actions against the Southeast Asian country.

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