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Vaccines, not spy planes: U.S. misfires in Southeast Asia

rott

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Vaccines, not spy planes: U.S. misfires in Southeast Asia

Tom Allard
,
ReutersOctober 27, 2020


Vaccines, not spy planes: U.S. misfires in Southeast Asia

FILE PHOTO: Media tour at Chinese vaccine maker Sinovac Biotech in Beijing
More
By Tom Allard
JAKARTA (Reuters) - For months, by Zoom calls and then by jet, Indonesian ministers and officials scoured the world for access to a vaccine for the coronavirus that Southeast Asia's biggest country is struggling to control. This month, their campaign paid off.
Three Chinese companies committed 250 million doses of vaccines to the archipelago of 270 million people. A letter of intent was signed with a UK-based company for another 100 million.
Absent from these pledges: the United States.

Not only was it not promising any vaccine, but months earlier the United States shocked Indonesian officials by asking to land and refuel its spy planes in the territory, four senior Indonesian officials told Reuters. This would reverse a decades-long policy of strategic neutrality in the country.
With the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo due to visit Jakarta on Oct. 29, Washington's campaign to buttress its influence in the region - part of its escalating global rivalry with China - has been misfiring, say government officials and analysts.
On the other hand, China - Indonesia and the region's biggest investor and trading partner - has won ground with vaccines and trade.
America's strategic interests converge with those of many others in the region; Washington opposes Beijing's island-building and militarisation of the South China Sea. Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei dispute China's territorial claim to over 90% of the waterway.
Indonesia does not have a formal claim to the waters, but it, too, opposes China's claim. China is less popular among Indonesians than the United States, according to polling in 2018 by the Pew Research Center, a think-tank in Washington.
This is an edge that the United States under President Donald Trump has blunted, according to interviews with more than a dozen government officials, former diplomats and analysts. Meanwhile China is managing to parlay its economic heft and early recovery from coronavirus restrictions to strategic advantage, they said.

"The U.S uses sanctions and muscle too much," said one Indonesian government source. "China is smart. It always uses the soft power approach, the economic approach, the development approach."

Pompeo said ahead of his visit that there are issues where the United States has already improved the relationship between the countries, "but there's more that we can do."

U.S. assistant secretary of State David Stillwell said separately the U.S. was working to build a "stronger economic partnership" with Indonesia and the United States had donated 1,000 ventilators to the country, part of a $12.5 million coronavirus aid package.



SPY PLANES

A former Dutch colony with hundreds of ethnic groups scattered over more than 17,000 islands, Indonesia is a founder member of the non-aligned movement, an alliance of developing countries which agreed after World War Two to avoid any defence tie-ups that serve the interests of the big powers. Since emerging from authoritarian rule 22 years ago, it has never allowed foreign militaries to stage operations on its soil, although it does conduct military exercises with other nations.

With this in mind, Indonesian officials said it was a surprise when the United States made multiple high-level approaches in late July and early August to Indonesia's defence and foreign ministers to grant landing and refueling rights to its P-8 Poseidon surveillance aircraft. These play a central role in monitoring China's military activity in Southeast Asia.

The proposal - first reported by Reuters - was swiftly rejected after it was reviewed by Indonesia's President Joko Widodo, commonly known as "Jokowi," the officials said.

Pompeo declined to comment on the rebuff. The U.S. Defence department declined to comment, as did spokespeople for Indonesia's government.

Singapore, the Philippines and Malaysia have allowed P-8s to fly in and out of their territory; Washington's request was more political than operational, said Euan Graham, an Asia-Pacific security analyst attached to the Shangri-la Dialogue, an annual meeting of regional security chiefs.

The P-8 bid was part of a region-wide U.S. diplomatic blitz that began in mid-July with three days of speeches by Pompeo and other senior U.S. officials denouncing China's conduct in the South China Sea.

As well as declaring China's territorial claims unlawful, the United States accused Beijing of "gangster tactics," saying Beijing denies Southeast Asian states the opportunity to develop the sea's resources. Washington has also announced sanctions on Chinese firms and individuals that help China build military installations on islands, atolls and shoals in the waters. China bases its claim in the South China Sea on what it calls "historic rights."

Repeated incursions into Indonesia's waters by Chinese coast guard and fishing vessels are an emotive issue in Indonesia, where there is a strong nationalist streak. The presence of about 36,000 Chinese workers in Indonesia - one-third of all foreign workers according to government data - has also riled many Indonesians.

In the past, the government has blown up Chinese and other foreign fishing vessels.

Senior officials say Indonesia has told China bluntly of its concerns of its aggression in the South China Sea this year. In July, Indonesia held military exercises in the portion of the waterway its claims as its exclusive economic zone.

But Indonesian officials said Washington's response to China has been unnecessarily combative. Adding to their anxiety, they said, was a growing fear that military conflict was brewing after the U.S. and China held major military exercises in the South China Sea within sight of each other near the contested Paracel Islands on July 4.

Foreign minister Retno responded to the rising superpower tensions in the region by contacting her counterparts in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) forum via their WhatsApp group. It was, said Retno, a "very fluid and intensive communication" that quickly led to a joint statement on Aug. 8 decrying the "detrimental ramifications" of "changing geo-political dynamics in the region."



VACCINE DIPLOMACY

President Jokowi, a former furniture manufacturer and exporter, has a plan to transform Indonesia's economy and set a course for the country to become one of the world's top five economies by 2045. That vision took a body-blow from the coronavirus pandemic.

With fewer than 400,000 infections and 14,000 deaths, Indonesia's official coronavirus burden is much lighter than many other big countries. However, epidemiologists and public health experts say very low rates of testing and contact-tracing mean the official figures significantly underestimate the spread and the government can't suppress the virus. An estimated 10 million Indonesians have fallen back into poverty and Indonesia's economic outlook has been downgraded repeatedly by the government and international agencies.

Jokowi has said the government's response to the pandemic and prospects for economic recovery are good compared to other countries.

Early access to a vaccine is Indonesia's only shot at controlling the pandemic, said Greg Poling, a Southeast Asia analyst from the Washington D.C.-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.

"It's the silver bullet," he told Reuters in an interview. "They have to get the vaccine as fast as possible."

Jokowi's close confidant and Indonesia's coordinating minister for maritime affairs and investment, Luhut Pandjaitan, gave the president cause for hope when he returned in October from China's Yunnan province with promised supplies of vaccines, which are in phase three trials, as well as a pledge to help Indonesia manufacture and export one of the vaccines to other countries.

"It is very easy dealing with the Chinese and they actually executed almost all of their promises and commitments," said a senior adviser who travelled to Yunnan with Pandjaitan.

The U.S., grappling with one of the world's most severe COVID-19 outbreaks, has hoarded its vaccines, withdrawn from the World Health Organization and, unlike China, refused to join a WHO-sponsored plan to pool vaccines and distribute them to countries based on need.

"They are completely ceding the field to China," said Aaron Connelly, an analyst with Singapore's International Institute for Strategic Studies.

On his trip to Yunnan, Pandjaitan also secured almost $20 billion in funding from Chinese companies for a pet project of the president: a plan to build a lithium battery factory and nickel processing industry, the adviser said. Next month, senior government officials say Indonesia is expected to sign the world's biggest trade pact – the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership - that involves ASEAN states and China, but not the U.S. Meanwhile, the U.S. has been reviewing Indonesia's preferential trade status, to the alarm of Jakarta.



"NOT ONLY CHINA"

Indonesian officials and analysts say the Trump administration has made several unforced diplomatic errors in Southeast Asia. These started in 2018 when Trump did not attend the U.S.-ASEAN summit. In 2019, he sent his national security adviser, a relatively junior government member, prompting seven of the region's 10 leaders to boycott the event. Washington has not appointed an ambassador to ASEAN since 2017.

Connelly said Pompeo's confrontational rhetoric - he has described the Chinese Communist Party as the "greatest threat" to the U.S. - makes Southeast Asian states less willing to cooperate with the United States.

"He makes it about the U.S. versus China, rather than what China is doing to Southeast Asia," he said.

Dino Patti Djalal, an Indonesian ambassador to the United States from 2010 to 2013, said Pompeo's "aggressively anti-China rhetoric" was, in part, targeting a domestic political audience as the Trump administration tries to deflect criticism of its handling of the coronavirus onto China.

Trump's push to cast China as the villain because the virus originated there had not resonated with Southeast Asian governments, he said, while China's vaccine diplomacy and its early economic recovery will serve Beijing well strategically.

"China is smartly and strategically using the COVID crisis to advance their relationships (in the region)," he said. "They are striking that theme they have always been pushing: When there are difficulties, it is China, not the U.S., that you can rely on."

Indonesia's foreign minister Retno Marsudi says Indonesia wants to engage with as many countries as possible when it comes to combating the coronavirus and developing its economy, including the U.S. This, she told Reuters, was the essence of Indonesia's "independent and active" foreign policy.

"It's not only China," she said.
 

Indos

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@Indos, this is about Indonesia.
I will try to make some points based on my understanding to explain the situation :

In the past Indonesia actually was in the camp of the West in a fight against communism. Even the reason of Indonesia invasion on East Timor is to destroy communism in the neighborhood and it also includes Indonesia military participation in Malaysia soil (Borneo (Sabah and Sarawak) against Communism insurgency during Soeharto regime until communisme was defeated in Malaysia in 1990. Indonesia send special force (Kopassus) there.

Indonesia always buys major weapon from the West during Soeharto regime and send weapon to both Afghan (babut marbur/flying carpet operation) and Bosnian war (Soeharto visit in Bosnia capital which is a cover up to send weapon according to former Military Intelligent Head (Soeripto). In both Afghan and Bosnian war, US also support those countries.

After Communism fell in 1990's and China rises in the post 2000's the geopolitical shift happens. Today the competition is between US and China. Indonesia has dispute with China but only in North Natuna EEZ, relatively much smaller areas than the dispute between China and other ASEAN countries. Furthermore, Indonesia is also a very important country in the region (ASEAN and Far East region) and could be said as one of the main Muslim powers.

That above combination of facts makes Indonesia strategist believe there is less motivation and more reluctancy in the China side to make aggressive moves toward Indonesia. China will likely want to include Indonesia in their camp or at least keep Indonesian in neutral position than become Indonesia enemy in order to reach China global ambition.

The fight against USSR and communism is also more profound in the mind of Indonesian since communism is against Indonesian core belief that has linked to Islam and also other religion followed by our people. It was more like holly war during that time. And this recent US-China rivalry is not seen as previous US-USSR competition since it is not ideological anymore.

Large portion of Indonesian strategist and politician, IMO, sees Indonesia can accept China rises and it is more like inevitable thing by seeing China rises in the last 20 years.

Despite accepting China rises and try to be neutral, Indonesia still shows hard restrain on China nine dash claim and try to keep ASEAN follow Indonesia stance despite some countries have some cozy relationship with China and dont have any dispute with China. This is shown by Indonesia Indo Pacific proposal that becomes ASEAN Indo-Pacific version in July last year. This is actually a major shift in ASEAN politics after so long ASEAN as a group is rather divided on SCS issue. Indonesia Indo Pacific proposal is very clearly saying explicitly that China nine dash claim has no basis and should be rejected by all ASEAN members and become ASEAN position as group.

Indonesia is also quite hard in rejecting China nine dash claim by using warship to stop China Coast Guard maneuver in North Natuna EEZ and has made Natuna as military base. This response is the hardest in the region since other countries use their Coast Guard to deal with China Coast Guard.

This hard stance actually shows that Indonesia can accept China rises as long as China doesnt act aggressively against Indonesia in North Natuna EEZ. And Indonesian strategists and leadership think China still hasnt acted beyond Indonesia limit, it makes Indonesia reject that US recent request.

Talking about Indonesia-China vaccine cooperation, Indonesia foreign minister, Retno Marsudi, has said that the cooperation is a win win and will not affect Indonesia current neutral position.
 
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rott

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I will try to make some points based on my understanding to explain the situation :

In the past Indonesia actually was in the camp of the West in a fight against communism. Even the reason of Indonesia invasion on East Timor is to destroy communism in the neighborhood and it also includes Indonesia military participation in Malaysia soil (Borneo (Sabah and Sarawak) against Communism insurgency during Soeharto regime until communisme was defeated in Malaysia in 1990. Indonesia send special force (Kopassus) there.

Indonesia always buys major weapon from the West during Soeharto regime and send weapon to both Afghan (babut marbur/flying carpet operation) and Bosnian war (Soeharto visit in Bosnia capital which is a cover up to send weapon according to former Military Intelligent Head (Soeripto). In both Afghan and Bosnian war, US also support those countries.

After Communism fell in 1990's and China rises in the post 2000's the geopolitical shift happens. Today the competition is between US and China. Indonesia has dispute with China but only in North Natuna EEZ, relatively much smaller areas than the dispute between China and other ASEAN countries. Furthermore, Indonesia is also a very important country in the region (ASEAN and Far East region) and could be said as one of the main Muslim powers.

That above combination of facts makes Indonesia strategist believe there is less motivation and more reluctancy in the China side to make aggressive moves toward Indonesia. China will likely want to include Indonesia in their camp or at least keep Indonesian in neutral position than become Indonesia enemy in order to reach China global ambition.

The fight against USSR and communism is also more profound in the mind of Indonesian since communism is against Indonesian core belief that has linked to Islam and also other religion followed by our people. It was more like holly war during that time. And this recent US-China rivalry is not seen as previous US-USSR competition since it is not ideological anymore.

Large portion of Indonesian strategist and politician, IMO, sees Indonesia can accept China rises and it is more like inevitable thing by seeing China rises in the last 20 years.

Despite accepting China rises and try to be neutral, Indonesia still shows hard restrain on China nine dash claim and try to keep ASEAN follow Indonesia stance despite some countries have some cozy relationship with China and dont have any dispute with China. This is shown by Indonesia Indo Pacific proposal that becomes ASEAN Indo-Pacific version in July last year. This is actually a major shift in ASEAN politics after so long ASEAN as a group is rather divided on SCS issue. Indonesia Indo Pacific proposal is very clearly saying explicitly that China nine dash claim has no basis and should be rejected by all ASEAN members and become ASEAN position as group.

Indonesia is also quite hard in rejecting China nine dash claim by using warship to stop China Coast Guard maneuver in North Natuna EEZ and has made Natuna as military base. This response is the hardest in the region since other countries use their Coast Guard to deal with China Coast Guard.

This hard stance actually shows that Indonesia can accept China rises as long as China doesnt act aggressively against Indonesia in North Natuna EEZ. And Indonesian strategists and leadership think China still hasnt acted beyond Indonesia limit, it makes Indonesia reject that US recent request.

Talking about Indonesia-China vaccine cooperation, Indonesia foreign minister, Retno Marsudi, has said that the cooperation is a win win and will not affect Indonesia current neutral position.
I'll make it short. All I can say is, China will not be aggressive, she may seem so, but she's the last one to go war with any country. China always looks for peace and development. If China is so aggressive, she won't be sitting on the table and talking to the Indians. Till now, China feels India and China's situation can be resolved by talks.
The same with Indonesia or any other country in the SCS. China will be the one whose going to be at the negotiating table even if the other party is upset and wanna go to war, China will not. China will go to war as the last resort if all things fail and she won't be the one starting it.
Thanks for your input, mate. Much appreciated.

My English isn't as good as yours, so I tried to express myself as much as I can.
 

Viet

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I will try to make some points based on my understanding to explain the situation :

In the past Indonesia actually was in the camp of the West in a fight against communism. Even the reason of Indonesia invasion on East Timor is to destroy communism in the neighborhood and it also includes Indonesia military participation in Malaysia soil (Borneo (Sabah and Sarawak) against Communism insurgency during Soeharto regime until communisme was defeated in Malaysia in 1990. Indonesia send special force (Kopassus) there.

Indonesia always buys major weapon from the West during Soeharto regime and send weapon to both Afghan (babut marbur/flying carpet operation) and Bosnian war (Soeharto visit in Bosnia capital which is a cover up to send weapon according to former Military Intelligent Head (Soeripto). In both Afghan and Bosnian war, US also support those countries.

After Communism fell in 1990's and China rises in the post 2000's the geopolitical shift happens. Today the competition is between US and China. Indonesia has dispute with China but only in North Natuna EEZ, relatively much smaller areas than the dispute between China and other ASEAN countries. Furthermore, Indonesia is also a very important country in the region (ASEAN and Far East region) and could be said as one of the main Muslim powers.

That above combination of facts makes Indonesia strategist believe there is less motivation and more reluctancy in the China side to make aggressive moves toward Indonesia. China will likely want to include Indonesia in their camp or at least keep Indonesian in neutral position than become Indonesia enemy in order to reach China global ambition.

The fight against USSR and communism is also more profound in the mind of Indonesian since communism is against Indonesian core belief that has linked to Islam and also other religion followed by our people. It was more like holly war during that time. And this recent US-China rivalry is not seen as previous US-USSR competition since it is not ideological anymore.

Large portion of Indonesian strategist and politician, IMO, sees Indonesia can accept China rises and it is more like inevitable thing by seeing China rises in the last 20 years.

Despite accepting China rises and try to be neutral, Indonesia still shows hard restrain on China nine dash claim and try to keep ASEAN follow Indonesia stance despite some countries have some cozy relationship with China and dont have any dispute with China. This is shown by Indonesia Indo Pacific proposal that becomes ASEAN Indo-Pacific version in July last year. This is actually a major shift in ASEAN politics after so long ASEAN as a group is rather divided on SCS issue. Indonesia Indo Pacific proposal is very clearly saying explicitly that China nine dash claim has no basis and should be rejected by all ASEAN members and become ASEAN position as group.

Indonesia is also quite hard in rejecting China nine dash claim by using warship to stop China Coast Guard maneuver in North Natuna EEZ and has made Natuna as military base. This response is the hardest in the region since other countries use their Coast Guard to deal with China Coast Guard.

This hard stance actually shows that Indonesia can accept China rises as long as China doesnt act aggressively against Indonesia in North Natuna EEZ. And Indonesian strategists and leadership think China still hasnt acted beyond Indonesia limit, it makes Indonesia reject that US recent request.

Talking about Indonesia-China vaccine cooperation, Indonesia foreign minister, Retno Marsudi, has said that the cooperation is a win win and will not affect Indonesia current neutral position.
China will give you priority access to vaccines because you offer chinese vaccine companies as testing ground. Think about it.
 

nufix

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China will give you priority access to vaccines because you offer chinese vaccine companies as testing ground. Think about it.
As per our Regulations, imported vaccines must be already tested in the country of origin. Sure, it might look like Indonesia gets an early access to be a testing ground, but all vaccines need to be tested anyway including the local ones that are now in development.

So far, the Sinovac vaccines have been tested to volunteer ranging from common folks to governor. No unwanted incidents so far. So lets see how this develops.
 

Viet

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As per our Regulations, imported vaccines must be already tested in the country of origin. Sure, it might look like Indonesia gets an early access to be a testing ground, but all vaccines need to be tested anyway including the local ones that are now in development.

So far, the Sinovac vaccines have been tested to volunteer ranging from common folks to governor. No unwanted incidents so far. So lets see how this develops.
Sinovac tests unproven vaccines just on few people in China, but on mass people in Indonesia and other countries that China calls as friends.
 

nufix

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Sinovac tests unproven vaccines just on few people in China, but on mass people in Indonesia and other countries that China calls as friends.
Granted, that is why we are not only buying from China. These imported vaccines are interim solutions until the locally produced vaccines are ready for distribution by mid next year.
 

Menthol

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I'll make it short. All I can say is, China will not be aggressive, she may seem so, but she's the last one to go war with any country. China always looks for peace and development. If China is so aggressive, she won't be sitting on the table and talking to the Indians. Till now, China feels India and China's situation can be resolved by talks.
The same with Indonesia or any other country in the SCS. China will be the one whose going to be at the negotiating table even if the other party is upset and wanna go to war, China will not. China will go to war as the last resort if all things fail and she won't be the one starting it.
Thanks for your input, mate. Much appreciated.

My English isn't as good as yours, so I tried to express myself as much as I can.
China doesn't need a war to be world number 1.

It's the USA who wants China to be involved in war, to buy some time for USA and in the process if lucky will destroy China.

Everyone knows it's USA who want the war in the first place, under the name of others.

China wants to build friendships and cooperation, and USA keeps slandering it.


Just compare China and USA media.

Who is more promoting hatred, threat, etc?

Definitely USA media.

I can't find anything in China media, that China accusing some countries as threats and should be invaded.
 

samsara

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China will give you priority access to vaccines because you offer chinese vaccine companies as testing ground. Think about it.
Or, one can wait for the last ride until the rest of the world, or most parts of the world, have been applying such vaccines in order get such confidence. A last adopter has its own benefit too, as well as the cost of being late :p:

The "choice" to adopt early, later or being among last ones is partially borne by the consuming nations.

I put the "choice" under quotes because it will be more up to the vaccine maker countries whether a taker country will get its vaccine allocation early or in the last line... since supply is limited and taking time to supply the vast world.

Think again mindfully before spitting words!
 

samsara

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Vaccines, not spy planes: U.S. misfires in Southeast Asia

Tom Allard
,
ReutersOctober 27, 2020


Vaccines, not spy planes: U.S. misfires in Southeast Asia

FILE PHOTO: Media tour at Chinese vaccine maker Sinovac Biotech in Beijing
More
By Tom Allard
JAKARTA (Reuters) - For months, by Zoom calls and then by jet, Indonesian ministers and officials scoured the world for access to a vaccine for the coronavirus that Southeast Asia's biggest country is struggling to control. This month, their campaign paid off.
Three Chinese companies committed 250 million doses of vaccines to the archipelago of 270 million people. A letter of intent was signed with a UK-based company for another 100 million.
Absent from these pledges: the United States.

Not only was it not promising any vaccine, but months earlier the United States shocked Indonesian officials by asking to land and refuel its spy planes in the territory, four senior Indonesian officials told Reuters. This would reverse a decades-long policy of strategic neutrality in the country.
With the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo due to visit Jakarta on Oct. 29, Washington's campaign to buttress its influence in the region - part of its escalating global rivalry with China - has been misfiring, say government officials and analysts.
On the other hand, China - Indonesia and the region's biggest investor and trading partner - has won ground with vaccines and trade.
America's strategic interests converge with those of many others in the region; Washington opposes Beijing's island-building and militarisation of the South China Sea. Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei dispute China's territorial claim to over 90% of the waterway.
Indonesia does not have a formal claim to the waters, but it, too, opposes China's claim. China is less popular among Indonesians than the United States, according to polling in 2018 by the Pew Research Center, a think-tank in Washington.
This is an edge that the United States under President Donald Trump has blunted, according to interviews with more than a dozen government officials, former diplomats and analysts. Meanwhile China is managing to parlay its economic heft and early recovery from coronavirus restrictions to strategic advantage, they said.

"The U.S uses sanctions and muscle too much," said one Indonesian government source. "China is smart. It always uses the soft power approach, the economic approach, the development approach."

Pompeo said ahead of his visit that there are issues where the United States has already improved the relationship between the countries, "but there's more that we can do."

U.S. assistant secretary of State David Stillwell said separately the U.S. was working to build a "stronger economic partnership" with Indonesia and the United States had donated 1,000 ventilators to the country, part of a $12.5 million coronavirus aid package.



SPY PLANES

A former Dutch colony with hundreds of ethnic groups scattered over more than 17,000 islands, Indonesia is a founder member of the non-aligned movement, an alliance of developing countries which agreed after World War Two to avoid any defence tie-ups that serve the interests of the big powers. Since emerging from authoritarian rule 22 years ago, it has never allowed foreign militaries to stage operations on its soil, although it does conduct military exercises with other nations.

With this in mind, Indonesian officials said it was a surprise when the United States made multiple high-level approaches in late July and early August to Indonesia's defence and foreign ministers to grant landing and refueling rights to its P-8 Poseidon surveillance aircraft. These play a central role in monitoring China's military activity in Southeast Asia.

The proposal - first reported by Reuters - was swiftly rejected after it was reviewed by Indonesia's President Joko Widodo, commonly known as "Jokowi," the officials said.

Pompeo declined to comment on the rebuff. The U.S. Defence department declined to comment, as did spokespeople for Indonesia's government.

Singapore, the Philippines and Malaysia have allowed P-8s to fly in and out of their territory; Washington's request was more political than operational, said Euan Graham, an Asia-Pacific security analyst attached to the Shangri-la Dialogue, an annual meeting of regional security chiefs.

The P-8 bid was part of a region-wide U.S. diplomatic blitz that began in mid-July with three days of speeches by Pompeo and other senior U.S. officials denouncing China's conduct in the South China Sea.

As well as declaring China's territorial claims unlawful, the United States accused Beijing of "gangster tactics," saying Beijing denies Southeast Asian states the opportunity to develop the sea's resources. Washington has also announced sanctions on Chinese firms and individuals that help China build military installations on islands, atolls and shoals in the waters. China bases its claim in the South China Sea on what it calls "historic rights."

Repeated incursions into Indonesia's waters by Chinese coast guard and fishing vessels are an emotive issue in Indonesia, where there is a strong nationalist streak. The presence of about 36,000 Chinese workers in Indonesia - one-third of all foreign workers according to government data - has also riled many Indonesians.

In the past, the government has blown up Chinese and other foreign fishing vessels.

Senior officials say Indonesia has told China bluntly of its concerns of its aggression in the South China Sea this year. In July, Indonesia held military exercises in the portion of the waterway its claims as its exclusive economic zone.

But Indonesian officials said Washington's response to China has been unnecessarily combative. Adding to their anxiety, they said, was a growing fear that military conflict was brewing after the U.S. and China held major military exercises in the South China Sea within sight of each other near the contested Paracel Islands on July 4.

Foreign minister Retno responded to the rising superpower tensions in the region by contacting her counterparts in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) forum via their WhatsApp group. It was, said Retno, a "very fluid and intensive communication" that quickly led to a joint statement on Aug. 8 decrying the "detrimental ramifications" of "changing geo-political dynamics in the region."



VACCINE DIPLOMACY

President Jokowi, a former furniture manufacturer and exporter, has a plan to transform Indonesia's economy and set a course for the country to become one of the world's top five economies by 2045. That vision took a body-blow from the coronavirus pandemic.

With fewer than 400,000 infections and 14,000 deaths, Indonesia's official coronavirus burden is much lighter than many other big countries. However, epidemiologists and public health experts say very low rates of testing and contact-tracing mean the official figures significantly underestimate the spread and the government can't suppress the virus. An estimated 10 million Indonesians have fallen back into poverty and Indonesia's economic outlook has been downgraded repeatedly by the government and international agencies.

Jokowi has said the government's response to the pandemic and prospects for economic recovery are good compared to other countries.

Early access to a vaccine is Indonesia's only shot at controlling the pandemic, said Greg Poling, a Southeast Asia analyst from the Washington D.C.-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.

"It's the silver bullet," he told Reuters in an interview. "They have to get the vaccine as fast as possible."

Jokowi's close confidant and Indonesia's coordinating minister for maritime affairs and investment, Luhut Pandjaitan, gave the president cause for hope when he returned in October from China's Yunnan province with promised supplies of vaccines, which are in phase three trials, as well as a pledge to help Indonesia manufacture and export one of the vaccines to other countries.

"It is very easy dealing with the Chinese and they actually executed almost all of their promises and commitments," said a senior adviser who travelled to Yunnan with Pandjaitan.

The U.S., grappling with one of the world's most severe COVID-19 outbreaks, has hoarded its vaccines, withdrawn from the World Health Organization and, unlike China, refused to join a WHO-sponsored plan to pool vaccines and distribute them to countries based on need.

"They are completely ceding the field to China," said Aaron Connelly, an analyst with Singapore's International Institute for Strategic Studies.

On his trip to Yunnan, Pandjaitan also secured almost $20 billion in funding from Chinese companies for a pet project of the president: a plan to build a lithium battery factory and nickel processing industry, the adviser said. Next month, senior government officials say Indonesia is expected to sign the world's biggest trade pact – the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership - that involves ASEAN states and China, but not the U.S. Meanwhile, the U.S. has been reviewing Indonesia's preferential trade status, to the alarm of Jakarta.



"NOT ONLY CHINA"

Indonesian officials and analysts say the Trump administration has made several unforced diplomatic errors in Southeast Asia. These started in 2018 when Trump did not attend the U.S.-ASEAN summit. In 2019, he sent his national security adviser, a relatively junior government member, prompting seven of the region's 10 leaders to boycott the event. Washington has not appointed an ambassador to ASEAN since 2017.

Connelly said Pompeo's confrontational rhetoric - he has described the Chinese Communist Party as the "greatest threat" to the U.S. - makes Southeast Asian states less willing to cooperate with the United States.

"He makes it about the U.S. versus China, rather than what China is doing to Southeast Asia," he said.

Dino Patti Djalal, an Indonesian ambassador to the United States from 2010 to 2013, said Pompeo's "aggressively anti-China rhetoric" was, in part, targeting a domestic political audience as the Trump administration tries to deflect criticism of its handling of the coronavirus onto China.

Trump's push to cast China as the villain because the virus originated there had not resonated with Southeast Asian governments, he said, while China's vaccine diplomacy and its early economic recovery will serve Beijing well strategically.

"China is smartly and strategically using the COVID crisis to advance their relationships (in the region)," he said. "They are striking that theme they have always been pushing: When there are difficulties, it is China, not the U.S., that you can rely on."

Indonesia's foreign minister Retno Marsudi says Indonesia wants to engage with as many countries as possible when it comes to combating the coronavirus and developing its economy, including the U.S. This, she told Reuters, was the essence of Indonesia's "independent and active" foreign policy.

"It's not only China," she said.
One has to read this Rothschild-owned and controlled REUTERS news aggregator (actually the trio giant, Reuters in London; its US subsidiary AP, and AFP in Paris are all owned and controlled by Rothschild families) very carefully.

Taking for instance if one peruses its news lines:

"On his trip to Yunnan, Pandjaitan also secured almost $20 billion in funding from Chinese companies for a pet project of the president: a plan to build a lithium battery factory and nickel processing industry, the adviser said."

BY DEFINITION, pet project (Noun): a project, activity or goal pursued as a personal favorite, rather than because it is generally accepted as necessary or important.

The Reuters concluded the Indonesia's LITHIUM BATTERY FACTORY and NICKEL PROCESSING INDUSTRY are the pet projects of the Indonesian President, Joko Widodo. While it happened that Evo Morales in Bolivia was forced to down from his presidency in 2019 by Washington's men in Bolivian police and military forces due to Morales' industrial policy on lithium processing!!

And moreover if one realizes that the PT Freeport Indonesia, part of Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc., (NYSE: FCX) after operating in the Grasberg mine, Papua, Indonesia SINCE 1966, and has not yet been operating its smelter plant in Indonesia until today (heard they are building one in East Java but possibly not yet operational) but all this long just exporting the raw materials to its smelter in Australia. The Grasberg mine in Papua Island is the largest GOLD mine and the second-largest COPPER mine in the world. JUST THINK!!!


And this news agency attaches no significance to the huge amount of the Chinese investment, almost 20 BILLION USD... OMG :sick:

For Indonesia, such FDI is truly huge! In fact I believe such direct investment amount is considered huge everywhere, incl. in China itself!


So, read and digest Reuters and those kinds very carefully! They are very good even excellent in mixing some facts with their spins and twists!! Great at "cooking" information!!!
 
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doorstar

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It's the USA who wants China to be involved in war, to buy some time for USA and in the process if lucky will destroy China.
they DO NOT want China destroyed nor do they want to elevate street-shitterland to a position of regional hegemon. they just want to set China back a decade or two so that it will not be able to challenge the empire that is US anytime soon.
 

samsara

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I will try to make some points based on my understanding to explain the situation :

In the past Indonesia actually was in the camp of the West in a fight against communism. Even the reason of Indonesia invasion on East Timor is to destroy communism in the neighborhood and it also includes Indonesia military participation in Malaysia soil (Borneo (Sabah and Sarawak) against Communism insurgency during Soeharto regime until communisme was defeated in Malaysia in 1990. Indonesia send special force (Kopassus) there.

Indonesia always buys major weapon from the West during Soeharto regime and send weapon to both Afghan (babut marbur/flying carpet operation) and Bosnian war (Soeharto visit in Bosnia capital which is a cover up to send weapon according to former Military Intelligent Head (Soeripto). In both Afghan and Bosnian war, US also support those countries.

After Communism fell in 1990's and China rises in the post 2000's the geopolitical shift happens. Today the competition is between US and China. Indonesia has dispute with China but only in North Natuna EEZ, relatively much smaller areas than the dispute between China and other ASEAN countries. Furthermore, Indonesia is also a very important country in the region (ASEAN and Far East region) and could be said as one of the main Muslim powers.

That above combination of facts makes Indonesia strategist believe there is less motivation and more reluctancy in the China side to make aggressive moves toward Indonesia. China will likely want to include Indonesia in their camp or at least keep Indonesian in neutral position than become Indonesia enemy in order to reach China global ambition.

The fight against USSR and communism is also more profound in the mind of Indonesian since communism is against Indonesian core belief that has linked to Islam and also other religion followed by our people. It was more like holly war during that time. And this recent US-China rivalry is not seen as previous US-USSR competition since it is not ideological anymore.

Large portion of Indonesian strategist and politician, IMO, sees Indonesia can accept China rises and it is more like inevitable thing by seeing China rises in the last 20 years.

Despite accepting China rises and try to be neutral, Indonesia still shows hard restrain on China nine dash claim and try to keep ASEAN follow Indonesia stance despite some countries have some cozy relationship with China and dont have any dispute with China. This is shown by Indonesia Indo Pacific proposal that becomes ASEAN Indo-Pacific version in July last year. This is actually a major shift in ASEAN politics after so long ASEAN as a group is rather divided on SCS issue. Indonesia Indo Pacific proposal is very clearly saying explicitly that China nine dash claim has no basis and should be rejected by all ASEAN members and become ASEAN position as group.

Indonesia is also quite hard in rejecting China nine dash claim by using warship to stop China Coast Guard maneuver in North Natuna EEZ and has made Natuna as military base. This response is the hardest in the region since other countries use their Coast Guard to deal with China Coast Guard.

This hard stance actually shows that Indonesia can accept China rises as long as China doesnt act aggressively against Indonesia in North Natuna EEZ. And Indonesian strategists and leadership think China still hasnt acted beyond Indonesia limit, it makes Indonesia reject that US recent request.

Talking about Indonesia-China vaccine cooperation, Indonesia foreign minister, Retno Marsudi, has said that the cooperation is a win win and will not affect Indonesia current neutral position.
About your very standard narration about the bloody coup of the Indonesia's founding father and the first president, SUKARNO, in 1965 by SUHARTO et al, wrapped as the anti-communism movement, I wish you may read this newly published book in MAY 2020 as follows:

BOOK: "The Jakarta Method: Washington's Anticommunist Crusade & the Mass Murder Program that Shaped Our World" (May 2020)

Authored by VINCENT BEVINS

The Jakarta Method Authored By Vincent Bevins - Front Cover.jpg


The hidden story of the WANTON SLAUGHTER -- in Indonesia, Latin America, and around the world -- backed by the United States. In 1965, the U.S. government helped the Indonesian military kill approximately one million innocent civilians. This was one of the most important turning points of the 20th century, eliminating the largest communist party outside China and the Soviet Union and INSPIRING COPYCAT TERROR PROGRAMS in faraway countries like Brazil and Chile. But these events remain widely overlooked, precisely because the CIA's secret interventions were so successful.

In this bold and comprehensive new history, VINCENT BEVINS builds on his incisive reporting for the WASHINGTON POST, using RECENTLY DECLASSIFIED DOCUMENTS, ARCHIVAL RESEARCH and eye-witness testimony collected ACROSS TWELVE COUNTRIES to reveal a shocking legacy that spans the globe. For decades, it's BEEN BELIEVED that parts of the developing world passed peacefully into the U.S.-led capitalist system. The JAKARTA METHOD demonstrates that the brutal extermination of UNARMED LEFTISTS was a fundamental part of Washington's final triumph in the Cold War.

Table of Content:

The Jakarta Method Authored By Vincent Bevins - TOC.png


 
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