Pompeo praises Indonesia for stance on China’s sovereignty claims

Jakarta, Oct 29 (efe-epa).- The United States’ Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday praised the “decisive actions” that Indonesia has taken against China’s “illegal” sovereignty claims in the South China Sea.

At an event in Jakarta with the Indonesian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Retno Marsudi, Pompeo defended “freedom of the seas, sovereignty and the rule of law.”

“Our law-abiding nations reject the unlawful claims by the Chinese Communist Party in the South China Sea as is clear from Indonesia’s courageous leadership on this subject within ASEAN and at the United Nations,” said the head of American diplomacy.

“I am looking forward to co-operating together in the new ways to ensure maritime security protects some of the world’s busiest trade routes,” said the secretary of state.

Pompeo is currently on a tour of Asia that has taken him so far to India, Sri Lanka and the Maldives, and that will continue with a visit to Vietnam, another of the countries opposed to Beijing’s territorial claims in the South China Sea.

For his part, Retno, whose country clashes with China due to the territorial waters of the Indonesian island of Natuna, said that “international laws… must be respected and implemented” – without mention of the Asian giant – to maintain “peace and stability” in the region.

Pompeo also met with Indonesian President Joko Widodo Thursday and was scheduled to deliver a speech during a forum of Indonesian Muslim youths.

On Wednesday in Colombo, Pompeo called Beijing a “predator” by presenting his country as a friend to Sri Lanka and the Maldives, and advocated a “free and open” Indo-Pacific away from Chinese influence.

Tension has been mounting in recent years in the South China Sea, a key strategic area for trade routes between east Asia and the Indian Ocean, and rich in natural resources, including fish, gas and oil.

Beijing claims almost all of this maritime space, where it has built facilities for military use on several islands, and which are also partially disputed by Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia and Taiwan. EFE-EPA


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