Indonesia conducts military maneuvers in South China Sea

Refusing to discuss maritime rights with China, Indonesia conducts drills focused on repelling enemy attack on island

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Indonesia conducts exercises in South China Sea. (CNA, Indonesian Navy photo) 

Indonesia conducts exercises in South China Sea. (CNA, Indonesian Navy photo) 

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Indonesia’s military wrapped up days of maneuvers Friday (July 24), widely seen as directed against China’s ambitions in the South China Sea.

Part of the exercises took place in the Natuna Islands, which were the flashpoints in 2016 and again last year for incidents involving Chinese fishing boats. While Indonesia is not one of the countries claiming sovereignty over islands and reefs disputed by China, Taiwan, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Malaysia, it has refused an invitation by China to discuss what Beijing described as an “overlapping claim of maritime rights and interests,” Indonesian media reported.

The July 21-24 drills featured the rapid deployment of troops to counter and repel enemy forces trying to land on the island of Singkep, according to a CNA report. A variety of ships as well as tanks, cannons, missile systems, and Air Force helicopters were deployed during the maneuvers.

A total of 2,000 members of the Indonesian Armed Forces participated in the amphibious warfare simulations. Officials have said the country’s navy was not as strong as should be, but the July exercises would show its determination to defend Indonesia’s sovereignty over its islands and maritime territory.