US Secretary of State, Michael Pompeo will conduct a series of working visits to several Asian countries from October 25-30. Some of the countries to be visited are India and Indonesia as well as several other countries.
In Jakarta, US Secretary of State, Pompeo will deliver a public remark and meet his Indonesian counterpart, Retno Marsudi to emphasize the vision of the two countries about a free and open Indo-Pacific. Pompeo's visit was carried out after Indonesian Defense Minister, Prabowo Subianto visited the United States last week to discuss defense cooperation with US Defense Secretary, Mark T Esper.
Prior to Indonesia, US Secretary of State, Pompeo and Defense Minister Esper are going to New Delhi, India to lead the third annual US-India ministerial level dialogue. It also aims to advance the US-India Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership and expand cooperation to promote stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific and the world.
Interestingly, many observers suspect that Pompeo's visit to Jakarta will carry a special mission, namely the empowerment of the Indonesian-American strategic partnership related to the conflict in the South China Sea. This has something to do with the US concern regarding the close relationship between Indonesia and China. Moreover, recently China has been very aggressive in the South China Sea. With its economic strength and the discovery of the Covid-19 vaccine, China is said to have expanded its influence in regional countries.
Relations between the two superpowers, the United States and China, have indeed heated up again regarding the South China Sea which is believed to have abundant natural resources.
In mid-July, the United States rejected China's disputed claims for offshore resources in large parts of the South China Sea. China is seen as providing no coherent legal basis for its ambitions in the South China Sea.
The United States has long challenged China's vast territorial claims in the South China Sea by sending warships regularly through the strategic sea route. This action is intended to demonstrate freedom of navigation in the area. It also hints that Beijing's claims to offshore resources in large parts of the South China Sea are completely illegal.
So far, Indonesia has not made any claims in the South China Sea and emphasized that it only respects international maritime law. Since a long time ago, Indonesia has submitted various legal bases to the United Nations regarding the boundaries of Indonesia's maritime sovereignty and China has not filed any protests at all. The most important thing to show is that Indonesia's attitude towards the right to an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the region bordering the South China Sea can be demonstrated clearly and consistently.