Indonesia Military Power under the Increasing Threat of Conflict in the South China Sea
In the international maritime system, the South China Sea (SCS) region holds economic, political, and strategic values. However, it is also the source of longstanding disputes among the countries within the region. For Indonesia, potential conflicts in the SCS might arise not only from China’s assertive territorial claims over the sea but also from fellow ASEAN countries. With the SCS waters contiguous to Indonesian Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), protecting Indonesian national interests in the region become very crucial. However, it is not uncommon for Indonesian patrol vessels to face intimidation by other countries’ vessels as they are protecting the national borders. In seeking to alleviate the conflict in the SCS, the Indonesian government mainly resorts to soft power and diplomacy. However, it is also viewed important for Indonesia to increase its hard power resources. In facing the growing threat of conflict in the SCS, Indonesian defense is deemed far from ready. Compared to China’s military power, by considering total number of personnel and naval assets as indicators, Indonesia military power is far behind China. Indonesian patrol vessels often face military intervention from China’s. It is believed that utilizing military power to its full potential would bring positive impact for Indonesia in handling the South China Sea conflicts.
Keywords: sea, Indonesia, China, conflict, defense.