The Natuna archipelago, a remote part of Indonesia in the South China Sea, consists of about 280 sleepy islands. Inhabitants there survive mostly on fishing or farming. It seems an unlikely place for a military buildup, but this week Indonesian defense minister Ryamizard Ryacudu told Kyodo News that his military plans to send soldiers, three warships, and a fleet of fighter jets to the islands, as well as upgrade a small military base there.
The increased militarization of Natuna is Indonesia’s latest move to strengthen its defenses in the South China Sea, where it has begun to challenge Beijing’s claims that about 90% of the highly trafficked waterway is Chinese territory.
Indonesia may be partnering with Japan as it does. Ryacudu will be part of “two-plus-two” security talks in Tokyo today (Dec. 17). The discussions involve the foreign and defense ministers of Indonesia and Japan, which is peddling military hardware in the region, thanks to the lifting of a ban last year that had prevented it from doing so. Part of Ryacudu’s visit to Japan could involve a trip to a manufacturer of amphibious aircraft, reports the Japan Times.
Read more: http://qz.com/575189/indonesia-will-send-fighter-jets-to-its-pearl-harbor-in-the-south-china-sea/