China Has to Ease Tension with Japan, Vietnam to Prove Its Peaceful Rise Intention

A fishing boat sits on a beach during a rain storm on the east coast of Natuna Besar July 7, 2014.  Credit: REUTERS/Tim Wimborne

A fishing boat sits on a beach during a rain storm on the east coast of Natuna Besar July 7, 2014.
Credit: REUTERS/Tim Wimborne

While China and ASEAN decided at a conference of economic and trade ministers on August 26 to conduct discussions on upgrading China-ASEAN free trade area, Reuters gives a report on the same day about the fear that China’s rise has roused in ASEAN countries Indonesia and Malaysia.

While providing ASEAN countries with lots of economic gains, China’s rise has also scared some people there especially due to the tensions between China and Vietnam and the Philippines.

What is especially worrisome is the fear remains in spite of the fact that China does not claim the islands and waters that Indonesia regards as its own.

Reuters says in the report, “Jakarta’s foreign ministry insists there is no problem with China over the status of Natuna, but the Indonesian military has in recent months struck a more assertive tone.

“In April, Indonesian armed forces chief Moeldoko accused China of including parts of Natuna within its so-called “Nine-Dash Line,” the vague boundary used on Chinese maps to lay claim to about 90 percent of the South China Sea.”

Malaysia has been on good terms with China for a long time as proved by its prime minister’s recent Beijing visit. Still it is stepping up its military buildup related to disputed islands and waters.

All the above proves that China has to take real actions to prove that it is sincere in pursuing a peaceful rise. The best it can do is to ease the tension between it and Japan and Vietnam.

The following is the full text of Reuters report on the topic:

Remote, gas-rich islands on Indonesia’s South China Sea frontline

The word “sleepy” could have been invented for Ranai, the largest town in Indonesia’s remote and sparsely populated Natuna archipelago.

It has few cars and only two sets of traffic lights. The cloud-wreathed mountain looming over it resembles a slumbering volcano. Nearby beaches lie pristine and empty, waiting for tourists.

From Ranai, it takes an imaginative leap to see Natuna – a scattering of 157 mostly uninhabited islands off the northwest coast of Borneo – as a future flashpoint in the escalating dispute over ownership of the South China Sea, one of the world’s busiest waterways.

But that’s precisely what many people here fear.

They know Natuna is quite a prize. Its fish-rich waters are routinely plundered by foreign trawlers. Lying just inside its 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone is the East Natuna gas field, one of the world’s largest untapped reserves.

And any quarrel over Natuna would also upset a delicate strategic balance, undermining Indonesia’s role as a self-appointed honest broker in the myriad territorial disputes between its Southeast Asian neighbors and regional giant China.

Jakarta’s foreign ministry insists there is no problem with China over the status of Natuna, but the Indonesian military has in recent months struck a more assertive tone.

In April, Indonesian armed forces chief Moeldoko accused China of including parts of Natuna within its so-called “Nine-Dash Line,” the vague boundary used on Chinese maps to lay claim to about 90 percent of the South China Sea.


With maritime tensions rising between China and the Philippines and Vietnam, Moeldoko later vowed to send more troops to Natuna “to anticipate any instability in the South China Sea and serve as an early warning system for Indonesia”.

The airforce plans to upgrade Ranai’s airbase to accommodate fighter jets and attack helicopters.

Officially, China and Indonesia don’t contest the sovereignty of the islands: both agree they are part of Indonesia’s Riau Province. Nor is Indonesia among the five countries – Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan and Brunei – challenging Beijing’s expansive claims in the South China Sea.

This has allowed Jakarta to play a neutral role and seek to mediate in an increasingly bitter and volatile dispute.

But Natuna’s bit-part in this regional drama reflects “growing concern within Indonesia about China’s actions within the Nine-Dash Line,” said Ian Storey, a security expert at the Institute of Southeast Asia Studies (ISEAS) in Singapore.

Rising maritime tensions with China have induced many Southeast Asian countries to seek closer strategic ties with the United States.

Since 2010 Indonesia has unsuccessfully sought clarification through the United Nations of the legal basis for the Nine-Dash Line. Indonesia’s foreign minister, Marty Natalegawa, told Reuters in April that Indonesia had “inferred” from China that the line did not cross Indonesian territory.

Locals remain unconvinced. “We’re worried they’ll take over this territory,” Ilyas Sabli, Natuna’s regent, or district chief, told Reuters, referring to the Chinese. “That’s why it has become our first priority to protect this homeland.”


About 80,000 people live on 27 of Natuna’s islands, mostly in Ranai and other places on the main island of Natuna Besar.

Ranai airbase was developed after Indonesia’s independence in 1949, and the town grew up around it. Today, a new civilian passenger terminal is being constructed in the hope of attracting more investors and tourists.

There was no evidence of an Indonesian military build-up. Two small naval ships lay idle at the end of a nearby pier.

Plans to upgrade the airbase were “not a new thing”, but part of a longer-term strategy to improve the airforce’s far-flung facilities, base commander Lieutenant Colonel Andri Gandhy told Reuters.

The plans include lengthening Ranai’s runway to handle larger aircraft. Work will start in 2015 or 2016, depending on the funding, said Gandhy.

Any military build-up would be hampered by budget restraints and fear of antagonizing China, said Yohanes Sulaiman, a security analyst at the Indonesian National Defense University.

“The Indonesian military really wants to defend the islands, but with what? How can they fight China?” he said.

Neighboring Malaysia has a more convincing blueprint to beef up its military presence in the South China Sea.

In October, Malaysia announced plans to build a navy base in Bintulu on Sarawak, the closest major town to the James Shoal, a submerged reef about 80 km (50 miles) off the coast of Malaysia’s Sarawak claimed by Malaysia, China and Taiwan. Chinese warships conducted exercises nearby in 2013 and 2014.

The base will host a new Marine Corps, modeled on, and possibly trained by, its U.S. counterpart. Without mentioning China, Malaysia’s defense minister said the aim was to protect Malaysia’s oil and gas reserves.

China has never protested against Indonesia’s search for oil and gas in Natuna waters, said Storey. The state-owned Pertamina is co-developing the East Natuna gas field with Exxon Mobil Corp, Total SA and PTT Exploration and Production.


As in Vietnam and the Philippines, it is Indonesia’s fishing fleet that feels China’s growing maritime presence most acutely.

Natuna fish stocks plummeted with the arrival of big-net trawlers from China, Vietnam, Thailand and Taiwan, said Rusli Suhardi, 40, a leader of the local fishermen’s cooperative.

“Before 2010, we could catch 100 kg (220 lbs) of fish a day. Now it takes three days to catch that amount,” he said.

A nearby bay is littered with the disintegrating wrecks of a dozen or more boats, mostly Vietnamese trawlers confiscated by the Indonesian authorities for fishing illegally. That no Chinese trawlers rot in this marine graveyard is testament to China’s growing maritime muscle.

In March 2013, armed Chinese vessels confronted a patrol boat from Indonesia’s maritime and fisheries ministry and demanded the release of Chinese fishermen who had just been apprehended in Natuna waters. Fearing for his safety, the captain of the Indonesian boat complied.

Similarly, in 2010, a Chinese maritime enforcement vessel compelled an Indonesian patrol boat to release another illegal Chinese trawler.

Storey, of ISEAS, said Indonesia has downplayed such incidents, not wanting them to overshadow relations with China.

Those relations are historic. Predating Ranai’s airbase is the ethnic Chinese community of Penagi, a ramshackle village built on stilts along a nearby pier. One of its oldest residents is Lim Po Eng, 78, a retired laborer, who said Penagi was founded by his grandfather and others fleeing chaos and poverty in China.

“We settled here and began to develop the place,” he said. The island was already inhabited by indigenous people, added Lim, “but they lived in the bush.”

Every morning, an Indonesian flag is raised over Penagi’s pier. Many locals say the Indonesian government cares little about the fate of Natuna, which lies closer to Malaysia’s capital Kuala Lumpur than it does to Jakarta.

But this apparent indifference is bred partly by a desire to keep the status quo, said security analyst Sulaiman.

“The government knows there are no good options,” he said. “They can’t fight China, but if they don’t push their claims Indonesia will become a laughing stock.”

Source: Reuters “Remote, gas-rich islands on Indonesia’s South China Sea frontline”

Source: CCTV “China and ASEAN agree to begin discussion on upgrading their free trade area” (summary by Chan Kai Yee dated August 26)

Related posts:

  • Restoration of Chinese-Vietnamese Friendship Very Likely dated August 26, 2014
  • China Uses Fishermen to Attack Vietnamese Fishing Boats at South China Sea dated August 25, 2014
  • Chinese Ships Rammed, Damaged Vietnamese Ship in Disputed Waters dated June 26, 2014
  • China massive construction of surveillance fleet including world largest patrol ship dated January 22, 2014

45 Comments on “China Has to Ease Tension with Japan, Vietnam to Prove Its Peaceful Rise Intention”

  1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on blog. Regards


  2. Jonathon says:

    Having read this I believed it was really informative.

    I appreciate you taking the time and energy to put this content together.
    I once again find myself spending way too much time both
    reading and commenting. But so what, it was still worth it!

    website (Jonathon)


  3. Raphael says:

    I will right away grasp your rss as I can not find your email subscription link or
    e-newsletter service. Do you have any? Please allow me realize in order that I
    may subscribe. Thanks.

    homepage (Raphael)


  4. I think the admin of this site is in fact working hard for his web site,
    as here every data is quality based data.


  5. I have read so many content regarding the blogger lovers
    but this article is really a nice article, keep it up.


  6. Ahaa, its good discussion regarding this paragraph here at this web site, I have
    read all that, so at this time me also commenting at this place.


  7. With havin so much content and articles do you ever run into any issues of plagorism or copyright infringement?
    My blog has a lot of unique content I’ve either created myself or outsourced
    but it looks like a lot of it is popping it up
    all over the internet without my authorization. Do you know any methods to help stop content from being stolen?
    I’d certainly appreciate it.


  8. Valuable information. Fortunate me I discovered your website accidentally, and I’m stunned why this coincidence didn’t came about earlier!
    I bookmarked it.


  9. I’m gone to say to my little brother, that he should also pay a quick
    visit this weblog on regular basis to obtain updated
    from hottest information.


  10. Good day! This is my 1st comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout out and tell you I really enjoy reading your blog posts.
    Can you suggest any other blogs/websites/forums that deal with the same subjects?
    Thank you so much!


  11. I feel that is one of the such a lot important info for me.
    And i’m happy studying your article. However want to statement on few basic issues, The website style is wonderful,
    the articles is truly great : D. Just right task, cheers


  12. Thank you for sharing your info. I truly appreciate your efforts and I will be waiting for your next write ups thanks once again.


  13. It’s awesome for me to have a web site, which is beneficial in support
    of my experience. thanks admin


  14. Valuable info. Lucky me I discovered your web site unintentionally,
    and I’m surprised why this accident did not happened in advance!
    I bookmarked it.


  15. Highly energetic blog, I liked that a lot. Will
    there be a part 2?


  16. This piece of writing will assist the internet users for creating new website or even a weblog from start
    to end.


  17. Nice replies in return of this issue with firm arguments and explaining the whole thing about that.


  18. WOW just what I was searching for. Came here
    by searching for advice


  19. This is a topic that is close to my heart… Take care!
    Where are your contact details though?


  20. I got this site from my buddy who informed me about this web site and now this
    time I am visiting this website and reading very informative content at
    this time.


  21. This website really has all the information I needed concerning this
    subject and didn’t know who to ask.


  22. I loved as much as you’ll receive carried out right here.
    The sketch is attractive, your authored material stylish.

    nonetheless, you command get bought an impatience over that
    you wish be delivering the following. unwell unquestionably come more
    formerly again since exactly the same nearly very
    often inside case you shield this hike.


  23. I know this if off topic but I’m looking into starting my own weblog and was wondering what
    all is needed to get setup? I’m assuming having a blog like yours would cost a pretty penny?
    I’m not very internet smart so I’m not 100% sure. Any
    tips or advice would be greatly appreciated.


  24. That is really attention-grabbing, You are a very professional blogger.
    I’ve joined your feed and sit up for in quest of more of your excellent post.
    Additionally, I have shared your web site in my social networks


  25. Undeniably consider that that you said. Your favorite justification seemed to be at the net the simplest
    thing to keep in mind of. I say to you, I definitely get
    annoyed whilst other people think about issues that
    they plainly do not recognise about. You controlled
    to hit the nail upon the top and outlined out the entire thing with no need side-effects
    , folks can take a signal. Will likely be again to
    get more. Thank you


  26. You’re so interesting! I don’t suppose I have read through a single
    thing like that before. So nice to find another person with
    a few unique thoughts on this subject matter. Seriously..
    thanks for starting this up. This web site is something that is needed
    on the web, someone with some originality!


  27. No matter if some one searches for his vital thing, so he/she wants to be
    available that in detail, so that thing is maintained over here.


  28. Your mode of explaining all in this piece of writing is
    really pleasant, all be able to effortlessly know it, Thanks a lot.


  29. I’m not that much of a internet reader to be honest but
    your sites really nice, keep it up! I’ll go ahead and bookmark your website to come back
    later on. Cheers


  30. Howdy! Do you use Twitter? I’d like to follow you if that would be ok.

    I’m undoubtedly enjoying your blog and look forward to new updates.


  31. This article offers clear idea in support of the new
    visitors of blogging, that in fact how to do
    blogging and site-building.


  32. I am curious to find out what blog platform you
    are working with? I’m having some small security problems with my latest blog
    and I’d like to find something more secure.
    Do you have any suggestions?


  33. Excellent post. I used to be checking continuously this weblog and I’m inspired!
    Very helpful information particularly the ultimate section 🙂 I deal with such information much.
    I used to be looking for this certain info for a long time.
    Thank you and good luck.


  34. Excellent article. Keep writing such kind of info on your site.
    Im really impressed by it.
    Hello there, You’ve done a great job. I’ll certainly digg it and for
    my part recommend to my friends. I am confident they will be benefited from this


  35. With havin so much written content do you ever run into any problems of plagorism or copyright
    violation? My site has a lot of completely unique content I’ve either written myself or outsourced but it looks like
    a lot of it is popping it up all over the internet without my agreement.
    Do you know any solutions to help protect against
    content from being ripped off? I’d really appreciate it.


  36. Hi there to all, because I am really eager of reading this website’s post to be updated regularly.

    It includes nice data.


  37. Hi there, I enjoy reading through your post. I wanted to write a little comment to support you.


  38. Hello, Neat post. There is a problem along with your site in internet explorer, might test
    this? IE nonetheless is the market leader and a huge component of other people will omit your excellent writing due
    to this problem.


  39. Thanks in favor of sharing such a fastidious thinking,
    piece of writing is nice, thats why i have read it entirely


  40. Hi, I do believe this is a great website. I stumbledupon it 😉 I will return yet again since I book-marked it.
    Money and freedom is the greatest way to change, may you be rich and continue to guide other people.


  41. […] China Has to Ease Tension with Japan, Vietnam to Prove Its Peaceful Rise Intention ( […]


  42. laipei says:

    so, Japan and Vietnam dont have obligation to prove their peaceful rise ?

    japan and vietnam dont need to ease tension to convince international community that they are ready to live peacefully with neighbor?


    • chankaiyee2 says:

      I am sorry for your ignorance.

      Japan is stagnant now. When it was quite strong, it brought disasters to Asian people. What Japanese people have to do now is to prove they are really sorry for the war crimes committed by their forefathers during World War II and will never repeat such crimes. If Japan is rising as surprisingly as China now, proving its intention of peaceful rise is not enough. It has to show real repentance.

      Vietnam is not rising so surprisingly as China has been doing. Even if it is, it will not scare its neighbors as it is not a large country like China.

      Therefore, your question about what Japan and Vietnam shall do for their rise is irrelevant. There has so far been no sign at all that either of the two countries will achieve marvelous economic growth.

      The sudden rise of a large country such as the Soviet Union and Germany did scare its neighbors. Chinese leaders are wise to repeatedly make clear China’s intention for a peaceful rise.

      Now, media outside China are publishing sensational articles about the threat of China’s rise. As good relations with other countries are important for China’s further rise, Xi Jinping is wise in making efforts to ease the tension with China’s neighbors. There are conditions for him to achieve that as both Japan and Vietnam have expressed their intention to improve their relations with China.

      I am lucky that my prediction about the improvement in my post “Restoration of Chinese-Vietnamese Friendship Very Likely” on August 26 turned out to be true. China and Vietnam improved their relations yesterday.

      Due to the ease in the tension between China and Vietnam, it is even more likely for China and Japan to improve their relations. I believe a summit meeting between Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will take place to restore the satisfactory relations between Japan and China for decades after the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.