Earlier this week, the Indonesian defense minister said that the country would boost its defenses near the South China Sea in anticipation of future threats.
Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu said that Indonesia will equip the Natuna islands near the South China Sea with a port and extend its military air base runway so that it can accommodate more planes. He also added that more jet fighters would be stationed at the Ranai military air base in Natuna.
“We are not in a war situation, but the South China Sea is very close to us,” Ryamizard added. “We have to be prepared. Our weapon systems are good, but we need to add more so that we don’t need to worry all the time.”
To close observers, Ryamizard’s comments are consistent with Indonesia’s general approach to South China Sea disputes. As I have written before, while Indonesia is not a claimant, Jakarta has long been concerned that a portion of the surrounding waters of its resource-rich Natuna islands overlaps with China’s expansive nine-dash line claim (See: “Natuna is Indonesian, Not Chinese: Jokowi Adviser”).