Indonesia’s new president Joko Widodo emphasized the importance of his country’s geographic location between the Indian and Pacific oceans when he spoke at the East Asia Summit on Thursday. Widodo (commonly known as Jokowi) announced his vision for Indonesia’s maritime future through five key developments:
1. Rebuilding Indonesia’s maritime culture.
2. Managing resources and boosting marine food sovereignty through the development of the fishing industry.
3. Developing maritime infrastructure including sea highways along the shore of Java, deep sea ports, logistics networks, shipping and tourism.
4. Cooperating with other nations to eliminate conflicts at sea, such as illegal fishing, violations of sovereignty, territorial disputes, piracy and marine pollution.
5. Developing maritime defense forces to boost the safety of shipping and maritime security.
As part of this initiative, Indonesia is expected to launch a new consolidated coast guard next month. The coast guard’s security role will include a crack down on piracy, smuggling, illegal fishing and human trafficking. Ships and personnel will be co-opted from the military to establish the new organization.
Widodo called for restraint and cooperation in the South China Sea. “We want the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean to remain peaceful and safe for world trade, not used as a platform for the seizure of natural resources, territorial disputes or maritime supremacy,” he said.
“Indonesia realizes that a substantial transformation is taking place in the 21st century. The center of gravity of the geo-economic and geo-political world is shifting from West to East. Asian countries are on the rise.”
He encouraged ASEAN members in the summit to support and be actively involved in running the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity, especially connectivity and maritime infrastructure. The Master Plan aims to boost the prosperity of the region through enhanced physical infrastructure development, effective institutions and empowered people.
The leaders of the 10 ASEAN nations and US President Barack Obama, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi were among those attending the summit.