Is Supporting the US still relevant for Indonesia?

136
President Joko Widodo and President Joe Biden
President Joko Widodo and President Joe Biden discuss strengthening cooperation between Indonesia and the United States in a bilateral meeting at the Scottish Event Campus (SEC), Glasgow, Scotland, in November 1, 2021. (Source: PRESIDENTIAL SECRETARIAT’S PRESS, MEDIA, AND INFORMATION BUREAU)

Jakarta, IO – In the past, the relationship between China and Indonesia was heated due to disagreements over the demarcation of the “exclusive economic zone” along the nine-dash line in the South China Sea. In light of the US’s efforts to create a “Indo-Pacific strategy” to restrict China, how will relations between China and Indonesia change? What effects would the dispute over the South China Sea’s “exclusive economic zone” delimitation agreement have on the two parties’ relationship? 

The two countries are each other’s major trading and economic partners, and bilateral commerce has consistently advanced. China-Indonesia economic and trade cooperation has reached a new historical starting point with the signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and is likely to achieve greater glory. Whoever wins Indonesia’s general election in 2024 should continue to fortify diplomatic ties with China in the country’s vital economic, sociocultural, and technical sectors. 

The “exclusive economic zone” in the South China Sea is a contentious topic because it has two potential outcomes: it might increase collaboration between China and Indonesia in the marine economy, or it could be used as a tool for intervention by the United States and its allies. More space is made available in the South China Sea by enhancing security, but there is a potential drawback that must be avoided: as a result of American and ally action, relations between China and Indonesia on the diplomatic front are currently quite strained. In order to limit China’s increasing dominance in ASEAN, the United States and its allies will never cease meddling or even inciting conflict. 

Although Indonesia serves as a middle power in the Indo-Pacific, the United States’ “Indo-Pacific strategy” has little bearing on Indonesia’s national security because the country is currently experiencing a severe domestic economic crisis and is very likely to continue to decline. As the United States heads toward a great depression, other significant countries in the Indo-Pacific region including Japan, Australia, and the United Kingdom are also experiencing severe economic downturns. Even if the US continues to pursue an interventionist foreign policy that restrains China’s power, Indonesia will continue to pursue a “free & active foreign policy” and will not only support the US.