Indonesia needs more than a military strategy for the Natunas

To deter Chinese activities in the North Natuna Sea, Indonesia needs to complement its military assets in the area with a strong civilian presence

A photo of Indonesian President Joko Widodo wearing a bomber jacket and standing next to a warship gun has become famous these last few years. It has been used in many media headlines and news articles, and was even on the cover of an academic book that examines Indonesian nationalism and sovereignty.

The picture was taken in late 2016. Then, the President had led a small-scale Cabinet meeting on a warship that sailed in the North Natuna Sea, after a Chinese fishing vessel had entered the Indonesian exclusive economic zone (EEZ) illegally. He sought to send a message that Jakarta will take any violation of Indonesian sovereign rights seriously.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 23, 2021, with the headline 'Indonesia needs more than a military strategy for the Natunas'. Subscribe