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India and Indonesia push back against China's growing dominance in the region with a military alliance

India and Indonesia push back against China's growing dominance in the region with a military alliance

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India and Indonesia push back against China's growing dominance in the region with a military alliance

Email India and Indonesia push back against China's growing dominance in the region with a military alliance

Posted June 01, 2018 11:07:50

Soldiers of China's People's Liberation Army get ready for the military parade. Photo: China has been taking an increasingly assertive role in the South China Sea. (Reuters: China Daily) Map: Indonesia

As China's growing influence dominates headlines, India and Indonesia have joined Australia in pushing back.

The two countries signed an agreement for closer military ties, and while it was not mentioned specifically in the official communique, concerns over China's military expansion in the South China Sea are clearly at the heart of the deal.

Australia has welcomed the agreement, suggesting it will work closely with India and Indonesia to ensure international law is maintained in the region.

Before and after: South China Sea


See how China is converting reefs to military facilities by building artificial islands in the South China Sea.

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Jakarta was a clear display of friendship between the two countries.

That friendship extends beyond trade and tourism, with their military ties elevated to a "comprehensive strategic partnership".

Indonesian President Joko Widodo said the visit was timely in the midst of many uncertainties in the world.

"I hope the partnership will contribute to stability, peace and prosperity," he said.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo stands at a lectern talking into a microphone. Photo: President Joko Widodo said Narendra Modi's visit was timely in the midst of many uncertainties in the world. (AP: Dita Alangkara)

A communique released by India's Government spoke of the importance of a rules-based Indo Pacific region â€" where international law, freedom of navigation and overflight are respected.

In other words, India and Indonesia are pushing back against China's growing dominance in the region.

Professor Rory Medcalf, head of the National Security College at ANU, said it was a "very serious development i n regional security".

"We're seeing two key middle powers joining forces to offer an alternative to Chinese hegemony, or indeed to an uncertain American leadership," he said.

China has been taking an increasingly assertive role in the South China Sea.

Two weeks ago it landed several H-6K long range bombers on an airstrip in the disputed region â€" placing all of South-East Asia within range.

Indian prime minister Narendra Modi speaks at a reception held by former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott. Photo: India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Jakarta was a clear display of friendship between the two countries. (AAP: Tracey Nearmy)

This year the US pushed back by dispatching warships to con duct freedom of navigation exercises through disputed sea lanes.

And in an indication America plans to continue its pressure, new language has been officially adopted by the US military.

"US Pacific command has this week changed its name, it will be called Indo Pacific command," Professor Medcalf said.

This, he said, reflected the fact that the US remained "strategically engaged with the wider Indo Pacific region".

So where does this leave Australia?

In a statement to the ABC, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said the Government welcomed the India-Indonesia partnership.

"Our three countries share a commitment to a free, open, rules-based, peaceful and prosperous region," she said.

"This includes respect for international law.

"Australia is working closely with India and Indonesia to advance these objectives."

Professor Medcalf said it showed that the idea of the Indo Pacific was "n ot simply some American plot as some pro-China voices have claimed."

"This development shows that Indonesia and India are beginning creatively to use their geography to position themselves at the core of new regional structures that Australia can link with, that Australia can play into," he said.

"That I think in many ways will moderate and balance Chinese power â€" this game is far from over."

This article includes interactive enhancements which are not supported on this platform.

For the full interactive experience in this article, you will need a modern web browser with JavaScript enabled. Find out more about browser support at ABC News Online.


Vietnam, China, Malaysia have eyes on the prize


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South C   hina Sea Map
Rich in resources and traversed by a quarter of global shipping, the South China Sea is the stage for several territorial disputes that threaten to escalate tensions in the region.
At the heart of these disputes are a series of barren islands in two groups - the Spratly Islands, off the coast of the Philippines, and the Paracel Islands, off the coasts of Vietnam and China.

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South China Sea Map
Both chains are essentially uninhabitable, but are claimed by no fewer than seven countries, eager to gain control of the vast oil and gas fields below them, as well as some of the region's best fishing grounds.
Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei have made claims to part of the Spratlys based on the interna tionally recognised Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), which extends 200 nautical miles from a country's coastline.

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South China Sea Map
Based on the EEZ, the Philippines has the strongest claim on the Spratlys and their resources, with its EEZ covering much of the area.
However the lure of resources, and prospect of exerting greater control over shipping in the region, means that greater powers are contesting the Philippines' claims.

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South China Sea Map
China has made extensive sovereignty claims on both the Spratlys and the Paracels to the north, based largely on historic claims outlined in a map from the middle part of the 20th Century known as the 'Nine Dash Map'.
Taiwan also makes claims based on the same map, as it was created by the nationalist Kuomintang government, which fled to Taiwan after the communists seized power in China.

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South China Sea Map
Vietnam also claims the Spratlys and the Paracels as sovereign territory, extending Vietnam's EEZ across much of the region and bringing it into direct conflict with China.
There have been deadly protests in Vietnam over China's decision to build an oil rig off the Paracels.
One Chinese worker in Vietnam was killed and a dozen injured in riots targeting Chinese and Taiwanese owned factories, pro mpting 3,000 Chinese nationals to flee the country.

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South China Sea Map
EEZ can only be imposed based on boundaries of inhabitable land, and this has prompted all the countries making claims on the region to station personnel, and in some cases build military bases out of the water, to bolster their claim.
Building and protecting these structures has resulted in a series of stand-offs between countries in the region, each with the potential to escalate.
China has been leading the charge with these installations, and has deployed vessels to the region to protect their interests.
Chinese coast guard vessels have used a water cannon on Vietnamese vessels, as well as blockading an island where the Philippines has deployed military personnel.

Topics: foreign-affairs, world-politics, indonesia, india, china, australia

Source: Google News | Berita 24 English

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