Indonesia stresses peace in South China Sea

By Erric Permana

JAKARTA (AA) – Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi stressed on Wednesday that all countries must comply with international laws in order to maintain peace in the South China Sea.

Speaking at a joint news conference with her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi’s in Jakarta, Marsudi emphasized that all countries must abide by the international laws, including 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, in order to preserve peace in the South China Sea.

Besides regional stability and security, both country’s leaders also discussed health and economic cooperation.

The Indonesian minister said her country has intended to establish national health resilience by achieving independence for drugs, raw materials and medical equipment, encouraging China and other countries to cooperate on the healthcare sector.

Marsudi urged China to eliminate trade barriers for Indonesia's top items such as fisheries, fruits, bird nests and palm oil, emphasizing trade balance and economic cooperation between the two countries.

China is Indonesia’s biggest trade partner. The value of Indonesia's exports to China last year was increased by more than 10% amid economic crisis and global pandemic.

Security of the Indonesian crews on Chinese ships was also discussed during the meeting. Marsudi appreciated Beijing for handling the issue of exploitation of the Indonesians working on Chinese fishing vessels.

According to Destructive Fishing Watch data, at least 30 Indonesian crew members were victims of exploitation aboard Chinese fishing vessels since November 2019, seven of whom have died and three of whom are missing.

The minister further noted that a range of issues still need to be addressed, such as the crews’ repatriation, labor rights settlement, safe and conducive working conditions, and law enforcement through mutual legal assistance.

The Chinese foreign minister’s visit is part of series his visits to Southeast Asian countries.

During the visit, both the ministers witnessed the signing of two Memorandum of Understandings between the two countries, one on Enhancement of Collaborative Activities and Pre-Feasibility Study for Lambakan Dam Project in Indonesia.

*Writing by Maria Elisa Hospita from Anadolu Agency's Indonesian-language service in Jakarta