Leo Suryadinata

Senior Visiting Fellow, ISEAS - Yusof Ishak Institute

Dr Leo Suryadinata is Senior Visiting Fellow at ISEAS - Yusof Ishak Institute, and Professor (Adj.) at S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at NTU. He was formerly Director at the Chinese Heritage Centre, NTU.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo inspects Indonesian navy ships at Lampa Strait Navy Base, 8 January 2020. (Indonesia Cabinet Secretariat website)

Indonesia crosses swords with China over South China Sea: 'Bombshell to stop China's expansionism'?

Indonesia has recently taken a firmer position vis-à-vis China on the South China Sea (SCS). This was described by some as the first time that any of Manila’s Southeast Asian neighbours had stood up and endorsed the 2016 Arbitral Tribunal Ruling, which rejected Beijing's claims to most of the critical waterway in SCS and ruled in favour of the Philippines. Is Indonesia's assertive stance “a bombshell to stop China’s expansionism” or “an extension of the Indonesian existing policy”?
A Chinese ethnic woman at her shop in Chinatown in Jakarta, 7 May 2020. (Bay Ismoyo/AFP)

Indonesians welcome Chinese investment but fear influx of new Chinese migrants

There has been an influx of new mainland Chinese migrants arriving in Indonesia since the BRI was launched in 2013. Chinese businesses have flourished and people who are bilingual in both the Indonesian and Chinese languages are in huge demand. However, ISEAS academic Leo Suryadinata notes that newcomers may create tensions, as they negotiate trust issues with the indigenous community as well as Chinese Indonesians who have made Indonesia their home for several generations.
 Indonesia's President Joko Widodo (C) during his visit to a military base in the Natuna islands, which border the South China Sea. (Handout/Presidential Palace/AFP)

Recent Chinese moves in the Natunas rile Indonesia

Indonesia has been caught in a tussle with China over rights to Natuna waters in the South China Sea. It appears that China recognises Indonesian sovereignty over the Natuna Islands and its 12 nautical miles of the territorial waters, but not the Indonesian EEZ which extends to 200 nautical miles. ISEAS academic Leo Suryadinata examines the claims and opines that if another encroachment takes place, an open clash could occur, and anti-China and anti-ethnic Chinese sentiments in Indonesia would again be whipped up.