03 July 2021

Presented via East-West Center—“China’s South China Sea Approach”—to Indonesian Journalists (Who Wrote Three Dozen Articles for 16 Million Readers)

Andrew S. Erickson, “China’s South China Sea Approach: Maritime Gray Zone Operations,” presentation for “Threat Assessment of the PRC South China Sea Policy,” East-West Center webinar with Indonesian Journalists via Zoom, 8 June 2021.

Honored to participate in this great event organized by Vice President and Washington Office Director Dr. Satu Limaye and his East-West Center Colleagues; together with Dr. Evan Laksmana, CSIS, professional translator Barastro Waseso, and over three dozen Indonesian journalists. My presentation focused on China’s maritime gray zone operations in the South China Sea and the forces it uses for such operations: the Coast Guard and Maritime Militia. Since the Maritime Militia remains the least known of its major sea forces, but for many operations is in fact Beijing’s force of choice, I primarily addressed the Maritime Militia (Milisi Maritim).

Indonesian journalists who participated in the webinar—and asked excellent questions—produced a total of 36 articles in Indonesian publications whose readership totals 16,064,125. (Tabulated below.)

Here’s a 37th article, in English:

Dian Septiari, “ASEAN, China to Resume South China Sea COC Talk in July,” The Jakarta Post, 12 June 2021.

The negotiation between ASEAN and China on the Code of Conduct (COC) for the South China Sea is set to resume next month in Jakarta, though officials from both parties doubt the talks will finish by the expected timeframe of the end of this year.  The year-long pause has made the three-year target proposed by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in 2018 increasingly impossible to achieve, as negotiators must pick up where they left off. The last meeting on the COC was held in 2019. But China’s ambassador to ASEAN, Deng Xijun, said recently that senior officials from both sides had agreed to catch up on talks. Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) researcher Evan A. Laksmana argued that both parties should prioritize producing a high-quality COC over disputes in the South China Sea. “Conducting the negotiations better and eventually coming out with a high-quality guideline is more important than rushing through some artificial timeline proposed by China,” Evan said in a recent webinar. Evan said Indonesia had to be more forceful in shaping a high-quality COC document. He suggested that Indonesia develop and expand its relationship with neighboring countries, such as Vietnam and Malaysia, to find a common position and security relationship that will help in the negotiation process. For the Code of Conduct to be more effective, it should prohibit any kind of coercive maritime militia, which China has employed across the South China Sea, United States Naval War College’s Andrew Erickson suggested. 

No.  Article  Readership
1 China Deploys Militia in South China Sea (Republika 6/10, p. 4)  400,000
2 Indonesia Should Consider Strategic Option on SCS (Pikiran Rakyat 6/10, p. 10)  350,000
3 Code of Conduct is Not Solution for Disputes in South China Sea (republika.co.id 6/9)  773,998
4 Indonesia’s Response Not Enough to Face China in North Natuna (beritasatu.com 6/9)  156,772
5 Invasion Conflict Not Expected to Happen in South China Sea Issue (medcom.id 6/9)  166,632
6 CSIS Researcher Considers Indonesia Lack of Firmness Against China in South China Sea (viva.co.id 6/9)  250,933
7 Government’s Steps to Send Javanese Fishermen to Natuna Not Effective Against China (liputan6.com 6/9)  1,414,889
8 Professor Erickson: China Deploys Maritime Militia in South China Sea (Antara 6/9)  390,450
9 Expert: CoC Part of Conflict Management in South China Sea (Antara 6/9)  921,015
10 Researcher: Policy Development to Solve Problems with China in Natuna (Antara 6/9) 390,450
11 China Deploys Maritime Militia in South China Sea (republika.co.id 6/9) 773,998
12 U.S. Expert Exposes Chinese Military Operation in South China Sea (viva.co.id 6/9) 250,933
13 Indonesia Must Expand Relations with ASEAN Countries to Help Complete CoC with China (sindonews.com 6/9) 1,358,293
14 Expert: Prabowo’s Purchase of Defense Equipment for Indonesian National Armed Forces Weapons Doesn’t Match Maritime Challenges in Natuna Facing China (liputan6.com 6/9) 1,414,889
15 Jokowi’s Policy in Natuna Not Enough to Respond China’s Aggressiveness (cnnindonesia.com 6/9) 877,527
16 Indonesian Government’s Policy in Natuna Waters Considered Insufficient to Overcome China (suryakepri.com 6/9) 119
17 China Deploys Maritime Militia in South China Sea (harianaceh.co.id 6/9) 12,818
18 China Forms Military Elite Units among Fishermen in the South China Sea (beritasatu.com 6/9) 156,772
19 Indonesia Can Take Role in Reducing South China Sea Tensions (kumparan.com 6/9) 1,030,355
20 Defense Equipment Spending Plans Don’t Match Challenges in Natuna (mediaindonesia.com 6/9) 188,816
21 Indonesia Needs to Intervene to Ease U.S., vs. China Tensions in South China Sea (Alinea.id 6/9) 20,213
22 Code of Conduct Not a Solution to South China Sea Dispute (RRI 6/9) 98,599
23 Chinese Elite Troops Standby in South China Sea Disguised as Fishermen but Ready for War (wartaekonomi.co.id 6/10) 207,550
24 Chinese Elite Troops Standby in South China Sea Disguised as Fishermen but Ready for War (jpnn.com 6/9) 142,475
25 Code of Conduct is Not Solution for Disputes in South China Sea (rctiplus.com 6/9) 843,929
26 Jokowi’s Natuna Policy Not Enough to Hold China Back (exbuletin.com 6/9) 31,059
27 Indonesia’s Response Not Enough to Face China in North Natuna (ndnstoday.com 6/9) 1,037
28 Code of Conduct Not Solution to Dispute in SCS (IDNpos 6/9)  4,190
29 Code of Conduct Not Merely Solve Problems in South China Sea (wartaekonomi.co.id 6/10) 207,550
30 Researcher: Government Needs to Be Firm in Its Maritime Policy (pikiran-rakyat.com 6/10) 685,260
31 CSIS Researcher Says Code of Conduct ASEAN-China Fails, Mentions Real Problem in SCS (tribunnews.com 6/10)  2,040,989
32 CSIS Researcher Considers Indonesia Lack of Firmness Against China in South China Sea (epicentrum.co.id 6/10)  635
33 Evan Laksmana Says Indonesia’s Response Not Sufficient to Face China in North Natuna Sea Conflict (dnewsradio.com 6/10)  4,536
34 Chinese Elite Troops Disguise in South China Sea (Radar Cirebon 6/11)  26,129
35 Maritime Policy Development Will Solve Issue with China in Natuna (Antara Kepri 6/10)  371,716
36 China Ready to Obey 1982 UNCLOS in SCS (rri.co.id 6/10)  98,599
  TOTAL  16,064,125