When the Chinese Communist Party confirmed in 2017 President Xi Jinping as the paramount leader — a status only enjoyed by Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping — I predicted that China would become more assertive in the South China Sea and the East China Sea, the two most contested zones in the region.
Regional countries should always take this political reality into the equation in their dealings with China. (See my article, “Anticipating China’s leadership shake-up”, in The Jakarta Post, Oct. 16, 2017) The recent flare-up in the South China Sea is one of the strongest indications yet of this assertiveness. Indonesia can no longer brush aside the fact that it has become and will continue to be part of the problem.
Chinese fishing boats and coast guard vessels will not stop intruding into Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ), regardless