Indonesia ready to work with countries to finalize South China Sea code

January 10, 2024 - 10:58 AM
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Retno Marsudi Minister for foreign affairs of Indonesia attends a side event during an event commemorating the 75th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, December 12, 2023. (Reuters/Denis Balibouse)

Indonesia’s Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said on Tuesday her country is ready to work with other Southeast Asian nations to finalize a long-delayed code of conduct for the South China Sea, where many of its neighbors have overlapping claims with China.

“On South China Sea, Indonesia is ready to work together with all ASEAN member states including the Philippines to finalize the Code of Conduct as soon as possible,” Retno said at a joint press conference with Filipino counterpart Enrique Manalo in Manila, ahead of a visit by Indonesian President Joko Widodo.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China have for years been trying to create a framework to negotiate a code of conduct, a plan dating as far back as 2002. But progress has been slow despite commitments by all parties to advance and expedite the process.

China stakes its claim on its maps with the use of a “nine-dash line” that loops as far as 1,500 km (900 miles) south of its mainland, cutting into the exclusive economic zones of Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam. A 2016 international arbitral tribunal ruling invalidated most of China’s claims, a decision that Beijing has rejected.

— Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales; Editing by Kanupriya Kapoor