Main Article Content
Ever since the end of World War II, the Republic of China (ROC), led by the Kuomintang Party and continued by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) led by the Communist Party, with its Eleven Dash Line (EDL), has claimed almost 90% of the South China Sea (SCS) waters, including the Spratly Islands, Paracel Islands, and all sea structures in that area. In 1953, the EDL was renamed to the Nine Dash Line (NDL) because China gave the area of the Tonkin Gulf to North Vietnam, led by Ho Chi Minh, which was still at war against the French and South Vietnam. China’s NDL claim has overlapped with Brunei’s claim, specifically Louisa Reef located on its continental shelf, Malaysia’s claim covering a portion of SCS in northern Kalimantan (Borneo), which includes at least 12 maritime structures in the Spratly Islands, among others, the coral reefs Swallow, Adraiser, and Marivelles. Additionally, the Philippines' claim includes the northernmost part of the Spratly Islands and Scarborough Shoal, known as Kalayaan in the Philippines. Vietnam's claim encompasses the Paracel and Spratly Islands, including 25 rock and sand formations and islands such as Spratly Island, Namyit Island, and Barque Canada Reef. The overlapping claims, which also occurred between Brunei and Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines, and Malaysia and Vietnam, have increased tension and incidents in the SCS, particularly between the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam against China due to China’s actions forcefully imposing its claim. This has made the situation more complex and fragile, leading the international community to term the overlapping claims as the South China Sea (SCS) Dispute. has no claim in the SCS, and no other country has a claim over Indonesia. However, in 2009, when China registered its new map of NDL claim with the United Nations (UN), it included part of Indonesia’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in the North Natuna Sea (NNS). The UN rejected this claim since it was not based on international law, particularly the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS 1982). Indonesia firmly denied that claim as it goes against Indonesia’s law and UNCLOS 1982. Due to increasing Chinese actions in imposing its claim on part of the IEEZ in the NNS, including Gray Zone Operations (GZO) maneuvers, Indonesia has risen to defend its sovereign rights in the NNS. According to UNCLOS 1982, in the IEEZ at the NNS, as a coastal state, Indonesia "has sovereign rights for the purpose of exploring and exploiting, conserving and managing the natural resources, whether living or non-living resources, of the waters superjacent to the sea-bed and off the sea bed and its subsoil, and with regard to other activities for the economic exploitation and exploration of the zone such as the production of energy from water, currents, and winds" (Article 56; 1 a). To overcome any disturbance and threat toward Indonesia’s sovereign rights in its EEZ in the NNS, Indonesia needs to convince China to nullify its IEEZ NNS’ claim. Indonesia needs to launch total diplomacy toward China, including cultural diplomacy, economic diplomacy, and defense diplomacy combined with and supported by defense capability. In this regard, Indonesia should increase its defense capability, particularly in the NNS, to guard the works, personnel, and equipment of the activities of natural resources exploration and exploitation. The enlargement of defense capability, including the quality and quantity of equipment and weaponry such as patrol boats, troopships, warships, hunter jets, fighter jets, radar systems, and Geographic Information Systems (GIS), should be done by optimizing the use of advanced technology. Determining the performance strategy, as well as the use of technology and interoperability systems in developing the defense equipment platform, information and communications technology such as Big Data and Data Links, can be a solution to increase and integrate the defense system, capability, and operational implementation. In this case, particularly by the Indonesia Navy and Air Force, by integrating various defense equipment owned and used. This study provides a comprehensive analysis of Indonesia’s strategy to counter China’s Gray Zone Operations in the North Natuna Sea.