Indonesia has a week of dynamic diplomacy.
Since the suspected retaliation measures imposed by China on Indonesia, first on its seafood products, and now on its biscuits, Indonesia’s Ministry of Trade has been trying to rectify the issue to avoid any further misunderstanding. Indonesia will be sending a team to China to discuss the trade issues between the two countries to prevent further deterioration in trade ties.
In the defense and security fields, both countries are in the process of signing technical defense cooperation. Indonesian Director General for Defense Strategy visited China recently to finalize the draft agreement on technical defense cooperation. It is expected that the pact will be signed this year.
Indonesia and Japan are to sign a joint economic partnership agreement (EPA) when Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Indonesian President Bambang Yudhoyono meet in Jakarta next week. According to Business Times, a critical part of the agreement is on the energy security. The agreement with Indonesia will be Japan’s sixth free trade agreement with ASEAN members, which will contain a special chapter on energy cooperation.
The Japanese who viewed the security of Malacca Strait as of utmost importance was however careful in discussing regional cooperation on sealane security, mindful of Indonesia’s sensitivity on this issue. As reported by Antara, countries like Japan and the United States regarded the Malacca Strait security as an important matter, where every year, over 60,000 vessels passed through the 500-mile strait. However, the strait was prone to piracy victimizing vessels passing the waterway and arms smuggling was also rife in the strait. Indonesia’s ties with Malaysia are again tested with the issue of domestic workers. Not so long ago, an Indonesian maid was desperately trying to escape by jumping from the 22nd floor, after received mistreatment from her employer. A few days ago, an Indonesian maid who was believed to have been abused was found dead. Indonesia is expected to give more attention to its citizens working abroad, and also hope for more strict regulations from the Malaysian side in the protection of migrant workers.
Last but not least, Indonesia’s lawmakers have backed the government’s offer to help Thailand solve prolonged violence in the troubled south. Theo Sambuaga from Golkar Parry said the government should become a mediator in talks between parties involved in the conflict. Djoko Susilo from the National Mandate Party (PAN) also said Indonesia needed to be involved as both a good neighbour and a fellow member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and may use the past experience as mediator in Cambodia’s and Southern Philippines’ conflict.
According to Jakarta post, Indonesia’s involvement in the conflict mediation in Thailand is important due to the fact that Indonesia is the world's most populous Muslim nation .
Muhammadiyah, the country's second largest Islamic organization, has also come up with several suggestions on how to end the conflict. (16 August 2007)
China’s slap ban on Indonesian biscuits (Straits Times, 16 August 2007)
RI and China to discuss ban on seafood (Jakarta Post, 14 August 2007)
RI sees no major impact from Chinafish ban (Jakarta Post, 15 August 2007) Indonesia, Chinadiscussing technical defence cooperation (Antara, 13 August 2007)
Japan understands RI`s sensitivity in Malacca Strait (Antara, 15 August 2007)
Japan, Indonesia to sign economic pact next week (Business Times Singapore, 15 August 2007)
Indonesian worker in Malaysia freed from death sentence (Antara, 14 August 2007)
Indonesian maid found dead in Malaysia (Jakarta Post, 16 August 2007)
Lawmakers support RI's offer to help Thailand (Jakarta Post, 15 August 2007)