Tensions rise in South China Sea as U.S.-Indonesia joint maritime center begins construction

Indonesia and the United States have held a groundbreaking ceremony for a $3.5 million maritime training center on the strategically important Riau Island of Batam, the Indonesian Maritime Safety Agency said June 26. The two countries are now working together to address tensions in the South China Sea.

U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia Sung Kim, who attended the groundbreaking ceremony, said the maritime center is part of ongoing U.S.-Indonesian efforts to strengthen regional security.

As a friend and partner of Indonesia, the United States remains committed to supporting Indonesia’s vital role in maintaining regional peace and security by combating domestic and transnational crime,” said Kim, according to a statement from the Indonesian Maritime Security Agency (BAKAMLA).

The maritime training center, located at the strategically important meeting point of the Strait of Malacca and the South China Sea, will be managed by the Indonesian Maritime Safety Agency and will contain classrooms, barracks and launch pads, the agency said.

The Philippines protested in May against the presence of hundreds of Chinese ships in the Spratly islands, and the United States and Indonesia, the world’s largest archipelagic nation, are working together as tensions rise in the South China Sea.

Earlier this month, the foreign ministers of the Southeast Asian nation and China agreed in a meeting to exercise self-control over each other in the South China Sea and avoid actions that could heighten tensions.