China-Indonesia relations

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.
Students gather as schools transition to in-classroom teaching amid the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic in Jakarta on 3 January 2022. (Adek Berry/AFP)

China’s Islamic diplomacy in Indonesia is seeing results

China’s efforts at Islamic diplomacy — including providing scholarships for Indonesian students and inviting leaders of Islamic organisations to visit China — seem to be paying off, at least in producing young academics like Novi Basuki, who has been defending China’s actions in Xinjiang. NTU academic Leo Suryadinata tells us more.
Police officers patrol the square in front of Id Kah Mosque in Kashgar, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, China, 3 May 2021. (Thomas Peter/Reuters)

Why Indonesia's Muslim organisations are not critical of China's Xinjiang policy

China's faith diplomacy towards Muslim organisations in Indonesia appears to have silenced critics of its policy towards the Uighurs in Xinjiang. Among its efforts, Beijing has portrayed itself as an ally of moderate Muslims against extremism, and invited Indonesian clerics several times to Xinjiang to give them a firsthand look into conditions there. In return, major religious figures in Indonesia have called on Indonesians not to criticise China over the Uighur issue. This is likely to continue as long as the Indonesian government sees benefits in its links with China.
A student cycles past a wall mural in Banda Aceh, Indonesia, on 10 December 2021. (Chaideer Mahyuddin/AFP)

Huawei digital talent programme: Another source of China's soft power in Indonesia

Huawei’s digital talent programme in Indonesia is contributing to China’s soft power as the latter seeks to engage Indonesia as an important node of its Belt and Road Initiative. Indonesia stands to gain from the exchange but also needs to be wary of possible cybersecurity concerns.
A protester sticks posters outside the Chinese embassy following reports that China has encroached on Indonesia’s maritime area in the South China Sea, in Jakarta, Indonesia, 8 December 2021. (Ajeng Dinar Ulfiana/Reuters)

South China Sea dispute: Why can't Southeast Asian countries stand united against China's claims?

Amid the spectre of China's growing assertiveness in the South China Sea, Indonesia plans to convene a meeting with some of its ASEAN colleagues — including the Philippines, Vietnam and Singapore. If the meeting happens, Beijing may not dial down its activities in the disputed areas, but the point would have been made that Indonesia is prepared to take the lead in galvanising ASEAN on South China Sea matters. The idea of a meeting is not new, but this time it might just work.
Lu Kang, former foreign ministry spokesperson who was also director-general of the ministry’s information department, slated to become next Chinese ambassador to Indonesia. (Internet)

Prospective Chinese ambassador to Indonesia Lu Kang will have sights on engaging ASEAN

Former foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang is slated to be the next Chinese ambassador to Indonesia. Amid US-China tensions, a post in Indonesia presents opportunities and challenges both in terms of bilateral relations and in engaging ASEAN. Known to be a steady hand, if Lu can chalk up notable achievements during his tenure, he may move on to higher roles, just like other high-flying spokesmen of the ministry.
An Indonesian Naval cadets uses binoculars as he monitors the signal from the KRI Diponegoro-365 during a joint excercise on guarding Indonesia's borders, in the North Natuna sea, Riau islands, Indonesia, 1 October 2021. (Antara Foto/Muhammad Adimaja/via Reuters)

Indonesia's response to China’s incursions in North Natuna Sea unsatisfactory: Indonesian academic

Indonesian academic Evan A. Laksmana notes that China has subjected Indonesia to maritime grey zone tactics in the South China Sea, attempting to change the strategic equation at sea and beyond without provoking a direct conflict. While Chinese incursions into the North Natuna Sea in Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) have increased, Indonesia has kept mum and appears unprepared to counter these actions. Laksmana examines the reasons behind Indonesian policymakers' reserved response.