WASHINGTON >> The Biden administration today approved a nearly $14 billion arms sale to Indonesia, as the United States moves forward with measures it says will help counter China’s growing assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific.
The State Department announced the sale of $13.9 billion worth of advanced combat aircraft as Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Australia for a visit also meant to underscore the United States’ determination to not giving free rein to China in the Pacific, even as developments between Russia and Ukraine demand attention. .
The sale to Indonesia of up to 36 F-15 fighter jets, engines and related equipment, including munitions and communications systems, follows a mid-December trip to Jakarta from Blinken , who at the time praised the close ties between the United States and Indonesia despite human rights concerns. that delayed previous arms sales to the country.
“This sale proposal will support the foreign policy and national security objectives of the United States by enhancing the security of an important regional partner that is a force for political stability and economic progress in the Asia-Pacific region,” said the department in a statement.
“Helping Indonesia develop and maintain a strong and effective self-defense capability is vital to U.S. national interests,” he said.
The statement makes no mention of China, but successive US administrations have sought to enlist Indonesia, the world’s largest predominantly Muslim democracy, in its campaign to ward off Chinese attempts to bolster its influence in the South China Sea. and elsewhere in the Pacific.
Indonesia hosts the headquarters of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, some of whose members have struggled to deal with Chinese movements in disputed areas of the South China Sea, which is an international shipping route major.
US military sales to Indonesia, however, have come under scrutiny and been delayed before due to human rights concerns. There was no mention of these issues in the State Department statement.