China-Indonesia relations

Presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto reacts while dancing as he claims victory after unofficial vote counts during an event to watch the results of the general election in Jakarta, Indonesia, on 14 February 2024. (Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters)

What Prabowo’s victory could mean for Indonesia-China relations

Based on current vote counts, Defence Minister Prabowo Subianto is set to clinch the Indonesian presidency after two previous losses against incumbent President Jokowi. Observers believe that Prabowo is riding on the popularity of Jokowi and could continue on the diplomatic path of non-alignment set out by the latter. Lianhe Zaobao associate editor Han Yong Hong takes a look at what Prabowo’s victory could mean for Indonesia-China relations.
The Jakarta-Bandung high-speed train in Bandung, West Java, on 17 January 2024. (Timur Matahari/AFP)

BRI's Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway: High costs but high returns

A few months after its inauguration, the Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway, the first of its kind that China built overseas with its own integrated system of design, engineering, equipment, technology, and standards, is proving to be a harbinger of stronger and more extensive China-Indonesia economic cooperation.
Mixue is popular among the urban youth in Indonesia. (Mixue/Instagram)

Much ado about Chinese ice cream Mixue’s halal certification in Indonesia

ISEAS academic Leo Suryadinata looks at the Chinese ice cream brand Mixue and the difficulty it faces in getting a halal certificate in Indonesia. What does it say about the power struggle between different interest groups and Indonesia’s processes?
Chinese President Xi Jinping (left) shakes hands with Indonesian President Joko Widodo as he arrives for the G20 summit in Nusa Dua, on the Indonesian resort island of Bali on 15 November 2022. (Kevin Lamarque/Pool/AFP)

Indonesia-China relations in review: After the G20 Summit

At the G20 Summit held in Bali under the Indonesian G20 presidency, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indonesian President Joko Widodo showed warmth when witnessing remotely the test run of the Jakarta-Bandung High-Speed Rail and undertaking bilateral talks. However, while economic relations are on a strong and steady track, sovereignty issues in the South China Sea continue to be a thorn in one’s side.
This handout picture taken and released on 13 October 2022 by Indonesia's presidential palace shows Indonesian President Joko Widodo standing next to a high-speed train at Tegalluar Station, in Bandung, Indonesia, which is planned to be tested with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, in November. (Handout/Presidential Palace/AFP)

How China helped build Indonesia’s high-speed rail

The Jakarta-Bandung railway is a landmark project under China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) as the country expands its presence in Southeast Asia. While there have been delays and challenges, the project looks to be on track. This and other BRI projects in Southeast Asia are seeing competing investments from the US and West.
President Xi Jinping of China (left) is greeted by the President of the Indonesian Republic Joko Widodo during the formal welcome ceremony to mark the beginning of the G20 Summit on 15 November 2022 in Nusa Dua, Indonesia. (Leon Neal/Pool via Reuters)

Indonesian elites and the general public have different views of China

Presidents Xi Jinping and Joko Widodo witnessed the test "ride" of the Jakarta-Bandung High-Speed Rail (HSR) via livestream during Chinese President Xi's visit to Indonesia for the G20 Summit in Bali. Economic cooperation remain high on the cards of bilateral relations, but while China’s trade and investment in Indonesia have grown substantially since the early 2000s, the Indonesian public does not share Jakarta’s desire to wholeheartedly embrace Beijing.
The only road leading to Semoi village, in the regency of Penajam Paser Utara, in East Kalimantan Province, Indonesia. (SPH Media)

Can Chinese capital and technologies jumpstart economic development in Borneo?

Malaysian academics Goh Chun Sheng and Guanie Lim observe China’s strong presence in the upstream and downstream sectors of developing Nusantara, the envisaged new capital of Indonesia in East Kalimantan on the island of Borneo, allowing for potential cooperation between China, Indonesia and Malaysia. Could this be the start of greater China-led cross-border collaborations in the region?
This photo taken on 22 September 2021 shows fishermen on their boat as smoke rises from chimneys at the Suralaya coal power plant in Cilegon. (Ronald Siagian/AFP)

In Indonesia, Chinese financing for coal-fired power plants grows faster than that for renewables

On the one hand, China’s potential in helping Indonesia make the clean energy transition has been spoken about, but on the other, China continues to be a big player in perpetuating non-renewable energy use such as in coal-fired power plants. Looking ahead, can they be a larger contributor in Indonesia’s efforts to derive 23% of Indonesia’s primary energy needs from renewable sources by 2025? Malaysian academics Guanie Lim and Goh Chun Seng tell us more.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo inspects an area that will be the site of the new capital city, during sunrise in Penajam Paser Utara regency, East Kalimantan province, Indonesia, 15 March 2022. (Courtesy of Agus Suparto/Indonesian Presidential Palace/Handout via Reuters)

Will China invest in Indonesia's new capital 'Nusantara'?

Amid fears of an increasing dependence on China being played up with regards to foreign investment for Indonesia's new capital in East Kalimantan, one must first ask if Indonesia offers an attractive enough proposition for Chinese (and other) investors, says Indonesian researcher Siwage Dharma Negara.