February 23, 2017

INDONESIA MAY CONDUCT JOINT PATROLS WITH AUSTRALIA IN SOUTH CHINA SEA: Beijing’s “artificial island imperialism” continues to get push back.

Indonesia is talking softly, but just mentioning joint military patrols indicates Jakarta is upset.

Indonesia President Joko Widodo will discuss the prospect of joint patrols with Australia in the South China Sea when he meets his counterpart Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull at the weekend.

Widodo told The Australian newspaper he would like to see joint patrols with Australia, but only if did not further inflame tensions with China.

“If there is no tension I think it’s very important to have the patrols together. We will discuss this with PM Turnbull,” said Widodo.

Indonesia has traditionally taken a neutral position on the South China Sea, acting as a buffer between China and fellow members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) that have the most at stake, the Philippines and Vietnam.

But after China angered Indonesia by saying the two countries had “overlapping claims” to waters close to Indonesia’s Natuna Islands, Jakarta staged large-scale exercise on the edge of South China Sea in October.

Here’s some background on the “slow invasion.”

RELATED: This post from last year explains why the The U.S. Third Fleet’s operating area has expanded. The USS Carl Vinson is conducting operations in the South China Sea and remains under Third Fleet command.