China in Malacca Straits

(Ali Cordoba - Riau, Indonesia - 22. 11.09):- China made a blunt offer to Singapore during the Apec meeting - it want to have its war machinery to patrol the Malacca Straits where Singapore has only a small control and Malaysia and Indonesia (majority Muslim states) have a larger control of the sea way.

The first reaction was a NO from Malaysian observers who says Malaysia and Indonesia has a tacit agreement on the straits - that is no foreign forces to patrol the area. The official stance of Malaysia and Indonesia has always been that even the United States or Nato forces are not allowed to set base or patrol the straits and there will be no agreement with these powers and the Muslim states on that matter.

Malaysia: Is The MCA On Its Death Bed - additional reading on Malaysia's politics.

Indonesia has also rejected a proposed deal from Singapore in which the Singaporean armed forces and its 'guests' - it could be Nato, USA, Israel or China - would have full land, sea and air access to Indonesian waters and territory for joint exercises. The once called Defence Protocol Agreement (DPA) was shut down by weary Indonesian MP's at the national parliament two years ago.

Unofficially, the Malaysians and Indonesians are waiting for Singapore to give them an indication of the intentions by China to cooperate with Singapore in the patrolling of the straits.?é?á In principle Malaysia will not agree that China brings its navy battalions in this region which will create a terrible shake u in the balance of power that already exists between the three littoral states. "Malaysia and Indonesia, being majority Muslim states, has a visceral fear of the Chinese communities being supported by China and they will see China's offer for help to Singapore in the straits as an attempt to overturn the Muslim majority's control of the straits in favor Singapore and Singapore's western allies," said a diplomat who wanted to remain incognito.

She added to that while policy makers in Singapore are congratulating China for its offer of help to guard and patrol the Straits of Malacca, the Malaysians and Indonesians are saying the offer should also be made to Malaysia-Indonesia as the nations that controls 80 percent of the straits. "Indeed, Singapore has its reasons to keep the offer to itself, wishfully thinking that Malaysian and Indonesia will be silent if China is patroling the straits and not the US or Israel or even Nato," she added.

In such circumstances, the offer of China to Singapore should have triggered objections or protests from Malaysia and Singapore but the possibility that China may assist - financially - in the construction of a bridge between Sumatra and Malaysia could have atoned the two Muslim nations. "They may be thinking that if China's armed forces are in joint exercises with Indonesia-Malaysia and Singapore forces, then it should not be a problem to have a joint patrol of the seas." the diplomat said, adding that it will then open the doors for Singapore to persist that the US and Nato or other western forces too should be able to join in such exercises!

It is not known if the Chinese delegation that visited Malaysia on the eve of the Apec meeting in Singapore last week mentioned the offer to patrol the straits to Malaysia. "If they did, it is certain that Malaysia would have asked more details of the offer to Singapore and they are probably keeping this under the cover until further details are made public on this thorny issue." was told.

However, in Singapore, the Singaporean government has tactically given the nod to the Chinese to go further with their offer by sending in some patrol ships to Singapore in the first place. This in order to enhance the 'defense' ties and cooperation between both states. Nevertheless, China will have to learn that Singapore does not really trust the Chinese communist regime in Beijing due to a long history of flops in business and construction deals between China and Singapore in the past. The Singaporeans are also seen as the 'friends' of the West and Zionist Israel and that any 'power' given to Singapore to patrol the littoral seas will mean access to the seas by Jewish, American and Nato forces - which is something the Malaysians and the Indonesians are vehemently against.

The fact that 60 per cent of China's crude oil imports passes through the straight does not mean China has the right to patrol the sea lanes.

China indicated that it would like to work with Singapore to ensure the safety of the straits of Malacca which is one of the world's most important waterways. The protection of the critical waterway was one of several security-related areas which China would like to cooperate with Singapore.
The rest include the overrated issue of counter-terrorism, maritime search and rescue. Malaysia and Indonesia would probably not oppose to such cooperation if it involves the small portion the malacca straits that is under Singapore sea routes.

However, China is pushing for cooperation with Malaysia-Indonesia and Singapore on that matter in a bid to protect its own South China sea ways and the Indian Ocean Andaman seas which are crucial for China's security and economic safety.

Last Updated on Sunday, 18 September 2011 19:23


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