President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo gave his assessment that conditions in Southeast Asia were much better than in other regions. The ASEAN-China partnership is hoped to drive regional peace, stability and prosperity.
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BANGKOK, KOMPAS – Leaders of ASEAN and its partners continue to strive toward regional peace and stability. During the 22nd ASEAN-China Summit in Bangkok on Sunday (3/11/2019), President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo gave his assessment that conditions in Southeast Asia were much better than in other regions. The ASEAN-China partnership is hoped to drive regional peace, stability and prosperity.
The President also encouraged ASEAN and Chinese leaders to strengthen existing partnerships. “In June, ASEAN inaugurated the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific. The outlook encourages all countries in the region to prioritize collaboration and forsake rivalry,” President "Jokowi" said.
He went on to say that Indonesia encouraged wide-ranging peace in the Indo-Pacific region through a regional perspective. The President highlighted the importance of strategic trust to maintain stability and peace, including in the South China Sea. He also emphasized the importance of respecting international law.
The outlook encourages all countries in the region to prioritize collaboration and forsake rivalry.
South China Sea
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said he hoped negotiations on the code of conduct (CoC) in the South China Sea would be finished within three years. All ASEAN heads of state responded to this positively. Nevertheless, they expressed hope that the code of conduct would be substantial, effective and applicable.
“Considering the complexities in international and regional structures, our cooperation is built on top of a structure that is stable and moving forward positively,” Li said. “This is beneficial for the region and all involved parties.”
He said China would support regional stability, through which the country would be able to resolve instability in other regions.
Li reaffirmed that China would support progress in the CoC negotiations that could prevent armed confrontation in the South China Sea, among the most disputed regions in the world. “We are ready to work with ASEAN countries,” he said.
Manila, which is involved in a territorial dispute with Beijing over the South China Sea, voiced appreciation for the stance. “It recognizes the fact that if it doesn’t agree to a code of a conduct then there will be turmoil in the region,” Philippine presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo told reporters on the sidelines of the ASEAN Summit.
The Indonesian Foreign Ministry’s ASEAN cooperation director general, Jose Tavares, said when all parties refrained from deploying armed forces and agreed on the CoC, the South China Sea would be a safer area.
Indonesia, despite not being a claimant, has the right to see the South China Sea as a peaceful maritime region.
The Indonesian government is pushing for the CoC to reflect real conditions in the Indo-Pacific region. This is because the CoC aims to prevent incidents and properly manage any that occur in order to prevent escalation and reduce conflict. Furthermore, the CoC aims to bolster confidence in the ability to create peaceful conflict resolution.
Jose said the Indonesian government was pushing for the conditions so that all countries in the region could exercise restraint and resolve conflict peacefully.
“Indonesia, despite not being a claimant, has the right to see the South China Sea as a peaceful maritime region. We, as a country in the region, have a huge interest in this issue,” Jose said.
Besides the South China Sea issue, another issue that is of common concern in ASEAN is the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which was negotiated during the ASEAN-India Summit.
According to Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi, President Joko Widodo has said that the RCEP is highly important for both ASEAN and India.
Despite the difficulties in negotiations between 16 countries, the President said he believed that the RCEP would benefit the people of all countries in the economic bloc. President Jokowi firmly hopes that India will remain with all RCEP countries.
The situation is difficult and there has been no conclusion, but there is still hope
The RCEP economic bloc is being discussed by the 10 ASEAN countries plus China, India, New Zealand, Australia, Japan and South Korea. If an agreement is reached, it will be the world’s largest economic bloc, larger than the European Union and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
The RCEP’s gross domestic product is projected to reach US$27 trillion, far more than the EU’s US$18 trillion and the TPP’s US$11 trillion.
Nevertheless, Retno said, India had yet to give a conclusive answer. Indian PM Narendra Modi continues to negotiate. “We\'ll see [this Monday] what it’ll look like. The situation is difficult and there has been no conclusion, but there is still hope,” Retno said.