#AceNewsReport – Aug.05: Indonesia is the largest country and economy in the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), a bloc Washington sees as key to its efforts to stand up to China’s growing influence in Asia….
#AceDailyNews says ….U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has announced the launch of a “strategic dialogue” with Indonesia on issues that include defending freedom of navigation in the South China Sea…..
Indonesia commits to South China Sea defence with US as India and Germany send warships to the region as China continues its expansionist policies in the deeply contested South China Sea, more countries are joining forces to counter Beijing in the energy-rich waters.
Meeting in Washington, Mr Blinken and Indonesian Foreign Minster Retno Marsudi also committed to work together against #COVID19 and the climate crisis and to boost bilateral trade and economic ties, the State Department said.
The two sides agreed to establish a “strategic partnership” in 2015, but Mr Blinken told reporters while standing alongside Ms Marsudi that the dialogue was only now actually being initiated.
“Indonesia is a strong democratic partner to the United States; we are working together on so many different fronts,” he said, adding that Washington appreciated Jakarta’s strong voice within ASEAN.
Ms Marsudi told Mr Blinken a strong partnership with Indonesia would be “a key asset for your increasing engagement in the region.”
She said the United States was one of the important partners for ASEAN in implementing its Indo-Pacific outlook.
“It is my hope, and the Indonesian government’s, to advance the bilateral relationship with the US, from health to SDGs, from education to economy, and beyond,” she said, using the acronym for sustainable development goals.
Ms Marsudi and Mr Blinken also “expressed shared views on maritime security” and committed to “defending freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, and continuing collaboration in cybersecurity and preventing cybercrime,” the statement said.
The talks came before Mr Blinken was to participate in a virtual meeting with ASEAN, several members of which have competing claims in the South China Sea to those of China.
Beijing sees nearly all the strategic waterways as its own and has built up its forces there.
Mr Blinken is joining a week of meetings with regional counterparts, part of a US effort to show it is serious about engaging with Southeast Asia to push back against China.
India and Germany send warships to region……Meanwhile, India is sending a task force of four warships into the South China Sea on a two-month deployment……..India’s defence ministry said on Monday, the deployment of the Indian Navy ships intends to ensure good order in the maritime domain and “strengthen existing bonds between India and countries of the Indo Pacific.”…..
During the deployment in the Indo Pacific, the ships are scheduled to participate in bilateral exercises with the Vietnamese Peoples’ Navy, Republic of Philippines Navy, Republic of Singapore Navy (SIMBEX), Indonesian Navy (Samudra Shakti) and Royal Australian Navy (AUS-INDEX).
On Monday, Germany also sent a warship to the South China Sea for the first time in almost two decades, joining other Western nations in expanding its military presence in the region.
China claims swathes of the South China Sea and has established military outposts on artificial islands in the waters that contain gas fields and rich fishing.
The US Navy, in a show of force against the Chinese territorial claims, regularly conducts so-called “freedom of navigation” operations in which their vessels pass close by some of the contested islands.
China in turn objects to the US missions, saying they do not help promote peace or stability.
Washington has put countering China at the heart of its national security policy and seeks to rally partners against what it says are Beijing’s increasingly coercive economic and foreign policies.
Officials in Berlin have said the German navy will stick to common trade routes. The frigate is not expected to sail through the Taiwan Strait either, another regular US activity condemned by Beijing.
Nevertheless, Berlin has made it clear the mission serves to stress the fact Germany does not accept China’s territorial claims.
Ace News Services/ABC with wires/State Dept/ Forbes/
#AceNewsDesk report ………Published: Aug.05: 2021:
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