The Indonesian Navy has conducted a four-day exercise in the Java Sea and the South China Sea, the contested waterway where tensions have risen lately between China and the United States, reported by the officials on 24th July. Twenty-four warships participated in the exercise that began on 21st July, including two missile destroyers and four escort vessels. Amphibious warfare training was also conducted.
A phase of the exercise was conducted near Indonesia’s Natuna Islands. The borders of the exclusive economic zone around Natuna overlap with the “nine-dash line” map claimed by China.
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. 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 areas.
Indonesia is not a claimant in the South China Sea dispute — which involves China, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Vietnam — but when U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issues a statement rejecting China’s maritime claims in the contested waters, he specifically mentioned Natuna as being outside China’s jurisdiction.