Kuala Lumpur/Jakarta/Beijing: – The ASEAN countries have expedited their activities to retaliate against the Chinese actions in the South China Sea. Chinese aeroplanes tried to intrude into Malaysian airspace on Sunday. But the Malaysian air force drove the Chinese planes away. Malaysia has registered an official protest and summoned the Chinese Ambassador. Whereas, Indonesia is preparing to increase the number of submarines in its navy three-fold to counter the Chinese bullying in the South China Sea. Cambodia, which is under Chinese influence, also has started efforts to build relations with the United States. Since the last few months, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army has made its activities more aggressive in the South China Sea. Warships, fighter jets and surveillance aircraft, and the naval militia are consistently intruding into the marine limits and airspaces of the countries in the region. Irritated with these constant Chinese intrusions, the ASEAN countries have initiated steps to retaliate against China.
On Sunday, nearly 16 Chinese aeroplanes attempted intrusion into the Malaysian airspace near the Borneo state. Malaysia dispatched its fighter jets from the Labuan air base to warn the Chinese fighter jets. After the deployment of the Malaysian fighter jets, the Chinese aeroplanes retreated. The Malaysian air force warned that this intrusion of the Chinese planes into its airspace is a serious threat to Malaysian security. Malaysian foreign department sent a note to China, denouncing the incident. At the same time, Malaysia has summoned the Chinese Ambassador and has demanded a complete explanation. Malaysian Foreign Minister Hishammuddin Hussein reprimanded China ‘The Malaysian stand is clear. Having friendly relations with a country on the diplomatic levels does not mean we will compromise on the national security issue.’ In an attempt to cover up, China said that this was a part of routine training sorties.
Indonesia has initiated moves to triple the number of submarines in the naval fleet to counter Chinese activities. Although Indonesia has the most extensive marine sector among the ASEAN countries, the naval capabilities are considered to be insufficient in comparison. Currently, Indonesia has four submarines, and the plan is to take the number to 12. Discussions are being held with South Korea, Russia, Japan and France for this purpose, and the agreement for six submarines is said to be near finalisation with South Korea.
Meanwhile, US Deputy Secretary of State, Wendy Sherman, visited Cambodia, the ASEAN country under Chinese influence. This visit is said to be a Cambodian attempt to establish closeness with the United States. However, against the background of Sherman’s visit, the Cambodian government news agency also published an article saying that there is a need to reset relations with the United States.
Since the last few months, the tension between China and the Philippines is increasing instead of diffusing. Senior Filipino official Elizabeth Te accused that China is not following the resolutions of the United Nations. There is a strong feeling of anger against China in the Philippines after China intruded on the Filipino marine region with hundreds of shipping vessels in March. Therefore, for the last two months, the Philippines government is repeatedly warning that it may take a strong stand against China. However, the Philippines has increased its patrolling in the marine sector, defying the Chinese pressure.