Marina Ika Sari
Researcher, ASEAN Studies Program
Indonesia has been "dragged along" in the South China Sea dispute since 2010 after China claimed the Indonesian Exclusive Economic Zone in the northern region of the Natuna Islands. China's unilateral claims continued and peaked in 2016 when Chinese fishing boats carried out illegal fishing in the Natuna waters. China's assertive actions are intersecting with Indonesia's national interest, prompting the Indonesian government to secure its national interest in the Natuna waters despite Indonesia being a non-claimant state in the dispute. The study aims to analyze Indonesia's national interests in the South China Sea region and its responses amidst the dynamics of the South China Sea dispute during the reign of President Joko Widodo. A qualitative method and concepts of national interest, geopolitics, and geostrategy are applied to analyze the study. The results of the study show that Indonesia's national interests include maintaining territorial sovereignty, sovereign rights for exploring and exploiting natural resources, as well as maintaining regional stability in the North Natuna Sea. Indonesia's responses under Joko Widodo's administration, in facing the South China Sea dynamics are exercised through diplomatic endeavours and military power deployments.
[This article was first published in Jurnal Politica Post on 31 May 2021 and can be found at: here]