In­done­sia Must Lead in the Indo-pa­cific Re­gion

Global Asia - - CONTENTS - By Be­ginda Pak­pa­han

In­done­sia and other asean states could play a key role in mit­i­gat­ing Us-china ri­valry.

De­spite its rep­u­ta­tion as an of­ten use­less talk­ing shop, the As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Na­tions has, in fact, been cen­tral to the cre­ation of a num­ber of sig­nif­i­cant ini­tia­tives aimed at re­gional in­te­gra­tion, draw­ing in other Asian coun­tries and the United States. As its largest mem­ber, In­done­sia has played a cen­tral role in ASEAN diplo­macy. With a re­newed fo­cus on the con­cept of an Indo-pa­cific re­gion, In­done­sia and its fel­low ASEAN mem­bers could play an im­por­tant role in mit­i­gat­ing grow­ing great power ri­valry be­tween China and the US, writes Be­ginda Pak­pa­han.

the no­tion OF the Indo-pa­cific re­gion has ex­pe­ri­enced a con­tem­po­rary re­vival and is now men­tioned fre­quently in the cap­i­tals of the as­so­ci­a­tion of south­east asian na­tions (asean) and else­where. In its sim­plest terms, the Indo-pa­cific re­gion cov­ers the Pa­cific and In­dian oceans. In re­cent years, China has in­tro­duced and pro­moted its Belt and road Ini­tia­tive (BRI) as a grand in­fra­struc­ture project span­ning these same oceans. the United states, Ja­pan, In­dia and aus­tralia, mean­while, have re­vived the Quadri­lat­eral se­cu­rity Di­a­logue as a coali­tion that could pose a chal­lenge to China’s rise in the Indo-pa­cific re­gion. In this es­say, I fo­cus on two cru­cial ques­tions: First, what are the main po­si­tions of the par­ties in the Indo-pa­cific re­gion? Sec­ond, what are In­done­sia’s views about pre­serv­ing and strength­en­ing a peace­ful and sta­ble Indo-pa­cific re­gion?

defin­ing the indo-pa­cific re­gion

the con­tem­po­rary use of the term Indo-pa­cific refers to an in­ter­linked and in­ter­con­nected re­gion be­tween the asia-pa­cific, south asia and africa. In 2007, Ja­panese Prime min­is­ter shinzo abe first pro­moted Ja­pan’s pol­icy on the In­dopa­cific re­gion on a visit to In­dia. He en­cour­aged new Delhi to work to­gether with tokyo in the Pa­cific and In­dian oceans to achieve a free and open Indo-pa­cific.

In 2008, the Chi­nese navy first con­ducted an­tipiracy pa­trols in the Indo-pa­cific re­gion. and in 2013, Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping an­nounced the Bei­jing-led Belt and road Ini­tia­tive, with a to­tal value of around $124 bil­lion, which is mainly aimed at pro­mot­ing ma­jor in­fra­struc­ture

projects for coun­tries in the Indo-pa­cific re­gion and stretches as far as africa and europe. else­where, China and Dji­bouti in 2017 agreed to the es­tab­lish­ment of a Chi­nese naval base there, Bei­jing’s first for­eign military in­stal­la­tion. and fi­nally, China and Pak­istan this year agreed to the es­tab­lish­ment of a col­lec­tive naval port in Gwadar, Pak­istan (smith, 2018).

China has also funded in­fra­struc­ture projects in sev­eral coun­tries across the In­dian Ocean, such as sea­ports in Colombo and Ham­ban­tota, sri lanka. In ad­di­tion, Bei­jing re­cently deep­ened its eco­nomic co­op­er­a­tion with the mal­dives by sign­ing a free trade agree­ment and ac­quir­ing land for a Chi­nese trad­ing post in the In­dian Ocean (mour­dok­outas, 2018).

For its part, In­dia is care­fully mon­i­tor­ing the pres­ence of China in the In­dian Ocean be­cause of eco­nomic and geopo­lit­i­cal fac­tors. On the eco­nomic front, In­dia does not want to be flooded by Chi­nese goods, which could come from the mal­dives, which has free trade agree­ments with both In­dia and China. On the geopo­lit­i­cal front, In­dia is wary of China’s ac­tions in the In­dian Ocean, be­cause Bei­jing could trans­form its sea­ports in sri lanka and the mal­dives into military posts (mour­dok­outas, 2018).

In or­der to re­spond to these de­vel­op­ments, Us Pres­i­dent Don­ald trump in novem­ber 2017 per­suaded Ja­pan, aus­tralia and In­dia to es­tab­lish the Quadri­lat­eral se­cu­rity Di­a­logue, which is aimed at cre­at­ing a “Free and Open Indo-pa­cific” (Fi­nan­cial ex­press, 2017). the four coun­tries later agreed to es­tab­lish a joint re­gional in­fra­struc­ture project for the re­gion in Fe­bru­ary 2018 (reuters, 2018). Pre­vi­ously, Ja­pan re­leased its new over­seas de­vel­op­ment as­sis­tance (ODA) pol­icy, which will sup­port high qual­ity in­fra­struc­ture projects in the Indo-pa­cific re­gion. a free and open Indo-pa­cific strat­egy is one of the pri­or­ity poli­cies for de­vel­op­ment co­op­er­a­tion at

I ar­gue that In­done­sia must pre­serve its free and ac­tive for­eign pol­icy at the cen­ter of ma­jor power co-op­er­a­tion and com­pe­ti­tion.

In­done­sia and ASEAN should em­ploy an axis of sym­met­ri­cal in­ter­ests by man­ag­ing its relations with ex­ter­nal part­ners in the Pa­cific and In­dian oceans.

Ja­pan’s min­istry of For­eign af­fairs (2017). Ja­pan and aus­tralia view their joint re­gional in­fra­struc­ture projects as an al­ter­na­tive to China’s BRI (reuters, 2018). In sum, the Quadri­lat­eral coali­tion has cre­ated an al­ter­na­tive to the BRI for the Indo-pa­cific re­gion.

How­ever, there are var­i­ous free and open In­dopa­cific strate­gies that have been pro­moted by Ja­pan and the Us as the main play­ers at the Quadri­lat­eral se­cu­rity Di­a­logue. Ja­panese For­eign min­is­ter taro Kono, in a speech at Columbia Uni­ver­sity on sept. 21, 2017, pro­moted Ja­pan’s con­cept of a free and open Indo-pa­cific, which would link africa, asia and north amer­ica into an in­ter­con­nected re­gion. He fur­ther ar­gued that Ja­pan, the Us, In­dia and aus­tralia wanted to de­velop a free and open mar­itime or­der based on the rule

of law in or­der to spur eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment and strengthen con­nec­tiv­ity by de­vel­op­ing and im­prov­ing in­fra­struc­ture from sea­ports to roads in coun­tries around the re­gion (Hosoya, 2018).

On Jan. 22, 2018, the for­eign min­is­ter ex­plained to Ja­panese law­mak­ers that the In­dopa­cific re­gion is cru­cial for world de­vel­op­ment be­cause more than half of the planet’s pop­u­la­tion live in the re­gion. From Ja­pan’s per­spec­tive, a free and open mar­itime or­der in the Indo-pa­cific re­gion must be pre­served and strength­ened by all coun­tries, be­cause it will cre­ate a sta­ble and pros­per­ous re­gion. yuichi Hosoya, a pro­fes­sor of in­ter­na­tional pol­i­tics at Keio Uni­ver­sity, has dis­tilled For­eign min­is­ter Kono’s ar­gu­ments into the three foun­da­tions of Ja­pan’s free and open In­dopa­cific strat­egy as fol­lows: free­dom of nav­i­ga­tion and the rule of law; con­nec­tiv­ity; and ca­pac­ity build­ing (Hosoya, 2018).

more specif­i­cally, in a lec­ture at the Cen­tre for strate­gic and In­ter­na­tional stud­ies in Jakarta on march 21, mie Oba, a pro­fes­sor at tokyo Uni­ver­sity of sci­ence, ar­gued that Ja­pan’s pol­icy on the Indo-pa­cific con­sists of the fol­low­ing com­po­nents: im­prov­ing strate­gic con­nec­tions among ma­jor pow­ers (the Us, Ja­pan, In­dia and aus­tralia); mak­ing eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment and con­nec­tiv­ity among coun­tries in the Pa­cific and In­dian oceans a pri­or­ity; and pre­serv­ing a rules­based or­der in the re­gion based on in­ter­na­tional norms and val­ues (Oba, 2018).

From the per­spec­tive of the Us, alex n. Wong, deputy as­sis­tant sec­re­tary at the Us state Depart­ment’s Bureau of east asian and Pa­cific af­fairs, de­scribed the Us strat­egy for a free and open Indo-pa­cific at a spe­cial brief­ing on april 2, 2018. He ar­gued that all na­tions in the re­gion should be free from co­er­cion from any par­ties. they should be able to se­lect their re­spec­tive paths in a sovereign man­ner, and should con­sider them­selves free in terms of trans­parency, good gov-

In­done­sia’s Indo-pa­cific frame­work should make In­done­sia and ASEAN an axis of co-op­er­a­tion based on sym­met­ri­cal in­ter­ests within the re­gion.

In­done­sia, with its fel­low ASEAN mem­bers, can pre­serve peace and se­cu­rity and es­tab­lish a pros­per­ous re­gion in the Pa­cific and In­dian oceans.

er­nance and fun­da­men­tal rights. more­over, he said, the Us be­lieves in open sea lines and air­ways, open lo­gis­tics and in­fra­struc­ture and open trade and in­vest­ment in or­der to sup­port eco­nomic growth and foster de­vel­op­ment in the Indo-pa­cific re­gion. the Us has thus ex­panded its ter­mi­nol­ogy for re­fer­ring to the re­gion from the asia Pa­cific to the Indo-pa­cific, first be­cause In­dia plays an im­por­tant role in south and east asia and the Pa­cific re­gion, and sec­ond, be­cause the Us sees In­dia as an in­flu­en­tial player in safe­guard­ing its in­ter­ests in the Indo-pa­cific re­gion (Us Depart­ment of state, 2018).

In a speech at a Us Cham­ber of Com­merce Indo-pa­cific Busi­ness Fo­rum in Wash­ing­ton DC on July 30, Us sec­re­tary of state mike Pom­peo ar­gued that the United states would build part-

ner­ships with coun­tries in the Indo-pa­cific re­gion and would not dom­i­nate the re­gion. It would es­tab­lish mu­tual co-op­er­a­tion with coun­tries in a free and open Indo-pa­cific. He fur­ther elab­o­rated that the Us would in­vest Us$113 mil­lion in var­i­ous ar­eas of co-op­er­a­tion for coun­tries around the Indo-pa­cific re­gion, such as en­ergy, dig­i­tal econ­omy, cy­ber­se­cu­rity and in­fra­struc­ture projects (mccarthy, 2018).

the sit­u­a­tion above demon­strates that relations be­tween China and the Quadri­lat­eral coali­tion are both co­op­er­a­tive and com­pet­i­tive. On one side, there is ma­jor power com­pe­ti­tion in the Indo-pa­cific re­gion. the Quadri­lat­eral coali­tion chal­lenges China’s sphere of in­flu­ence in the Pa­cific and In­dian oceans. On the other side, the Quadri­lat­eral coali­tion will be an al­ter­na­tive for re­gional in­fra­struc­ture projects in the re­gion. add to this the trade war be­tween the Us and China, where both sides are slap­ping tar­iffs on im­ports from the other (BBC, 2018), and the at­mos­phere of com­pe­ti­tion is ev­i­dent. there is also a trust deficit and un­sta­ble ties among coun­tries in the Indo-pa­cific re­gion. all in all, ma­jor power com­pe­ti­tion in the Indo-pa­cific re­gion could in­ten­tion­ally, or ac­ci­den­tally, lead to a war, if not prop­erly con­tained.

as a re­sult, the Indo-pa­cific re­gion has be­come a cru­cial fo­cus of aca­demic and public dis­course in asean cap­i­tals. In Jakarta, pol­i­cy­mak­ers, in­ter­na­tional relations ex­perts and even jour­nal­ists have piled into the de­bate. the next ques­tion: what is In­done­sia’s po­si­tion on the In­dopa­cific re­gion?

in­done­sia and asean’s role in the indo-pa­cific re­gion

at a con­fer­ence on In­done­sia by the Cen­ter for strate­gic and In­ter­na­tional stud­ies in Wash­ing­ton on may 16, 2013, former In­done­sian For­eign min­is­ter marty na­tale­gawa (2013) elab­o­rated on his views of the Indo-pa­cific re­gion. He pro­posed an Indo-pa­cific-wide treaty of friend­ship and co­op­er­a­tion that in­cor­po­rated commitments to build con­fi­dence, solve dis­putes peace­fully and pro­mote a se­cu­rity con­cept as a col­lec­tive good.

Five years later, cur­rent In­done­sian Pres­i­dent Joko Wi­dodo and For­eign min­is­ter retno mar­sudi pro­posed an Indo-pa­cific frame­work at the asean-in­dia sum­mit in Jan­uary 2018 and the aus­tralia-asean sum­mit in march 2018. I ar­gue that In­done­sia must pre­serve its free and ac­tive for­eign pol­icy at the cen­ter of ma­jor power co­op­er­a­tion and com­pe­ti­tion. this means that In­done­sia and asean should em­ploy what I call an axis of sym­met­ri­cal in­ter­ests, by man­ag­ing its relations with ex­ter­nal part­ners in the Pa­cific and In­dian oceans. as I pre­vi­ously ar­gued in an ar­ti­cle in the east asia Fo­rum in 2012, In­done­sia and “asean may use the axis of sym­met­ri­cal in­ter­ests, by bal­anc­ing re­gional and global in­ter­ests when ne­go­ti­at­ing with and re­lat­ing to ex­ter­nal par­ties. re­gional or­ga­ni­za­tions such as asean can serve as a fo­cal point for in­ter-re­gional co­op­er­a­tion based on mu­tual ben­e­fits. asean can strengthen its po­si­tion as a re­gional sta­bi­lizer be­tween the south­east and the east asian re­gions in or­der to cre­ate bal­ance and syn­ergy among ac­tors — in­clud­ing the Us and China. asean can help drive re­gional fo­rums such as the arf [asean re­gional Fo­rum] and the eas [east asia sum­mit] in or­der to de­velop de­pend­abil­ity of ac­tion within the po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic co­op­er­a­tion be­tween asean and its ex­ter­nal part­ners.”

Con­se­quently, In­done­sia’s Indo-pa­cific frame­work should make In­done­sia and asean an axis of co­op­er­a­tion based on sym­met­ri­cal in­ter­ests within the re­gion. In­done­sia, to­gether with its fel­low asean mem­bers, can pre­serve peace and se­cu­rity and es­tab­lish a pros­per­ous re­gion in the Pa­cific and In­dian oceans through pos­i­tive and in­clu­sive co­op­er­a­tion. ad­di­tion­ally, asean

should pre­serve its unity and cen­tral­ity to politico-se­cu­rity co­op­er­a­tion and eco­nomic part­ner­ships within the Indo-pa­cific re­gion through the east asia sum­mit (eas) and pos­si­bly other asean-led mech­a­nisms. In­done­sia can of­fer con­fi­dence-build­ing mea­sures and mu­tual co­op­er­a­tion as well as im­prove con­sul­ta­tion and di­a­logue in the evolv­ing re­gional ar­chi­tec­ture in the Pa­cific and In­dian oceans (mar­sudi, 2018).

In prac­tice, In­done­sia and asean pro­pose bi­lat­eral and pluri­lat­eral co­op­er­a­tion. these in­clude, among oth­ers, the asean-in­dian Ocean rim as­so­ci­a­tion (Iora) and asean-led ini­tia­tives such as the eas and arf, as modes of en­gage­ment among rel­e­vant ac­tors to pre­serve peace and sta­bil­ity in the Pa­cific and In­dian oceans. these co­op­er­a­tive mech­a­nisms are built on a con­sen­sus-based ap­proach, a re­spect for sovereignty, eco­nomic pros­per­ity and the prin­ci­ple of non-in­ter­ven­tion in the af­fairs of other coun­tries. these mech­a­nisms would bring many ad­van­tages to all coun­tries in the Indo-pa­cific re­gion (Pur­wanto, 2018).

In­done­sia and asean should take into ac­count sev­eral el­e­ments in the es­tab­lish­ment of a re­gional ar­chi­tec­ture: first, pre­serv­ing a peace­ful and sta­ble sit­u­a­tion for all coun­tries to de­velop their economies; sec­ond, de­creas­ing the po­ten­tial com­pe­ti­tion and de-es­ca­lat­ing ten­sions among big pow­ers in the Indo-pa­cific re­gion; third, cre­at­ing pros­per­ity and re­duc­ing de­vel­op­ment gaps; fourth, em­ploy­ing con­sul­ta­tion and di­a­logue as modes of en­gage­ment to es­tab­lish part­ner­ships and find so­lu­tions to dis­putes among coun­tries in the re­gion; and fifth, pro­mot­ing the rule of law and good gover­nance (mar­sudi, 2018).

there will be cru­cial chal­lenges for In­done­sia and asean in seek­ing to es­tab­lish and man­age an Indo-pa­cific frame­work:

to en­sure In­done­sia and asean mem­ber states pre­serve asean’s po­si­tion in the driver’s seat of the Indo-pa­cific frame­work. In­done­sia should per­suade, through diplo­macy, all asean mem­ber states to stand to­gether on the im­por­tance of asean’s cen­tral­ity and co­he­sion in asean’s diplo­matic ac­tions when it man­ages ma­jor power ri­valry and ma­jor power hege­monic am­bi­tions in the Indo-pa­cific re­gion. this will pos­i­tively sup­port and im­prove asean’s po­si­tion as a re­gional sta­bi­lizer in the Indo-pa­cific re­gion.

to en­large the cov­er­age of the treaty of amity and Co­op­er­a­tion in south­east asia to all coun­tries in the Indo-pa­cific re­gion. In­done­sia and asean can en­cour­age the ef­fec­tive im­ple­men­ta­tion of the dec­la­ra­tion of the eas on the Prin­ci­ples for mu­tu­ally Ben­e­fi­cial relations as guid­ing prin­ci­ples for in­ter-state re­la­tion­ships in the Indo-pa­cific, as pro­posed ear­lier by na­tale­gawa (2013 and asean sec­re­tariat, 2011). the treaty of amity and Co­op­er­a­tion has been rat­i­fied and ap­plied by In­done­sia, other asean mem­ber states and all of asean’s ex­ter­nal part­ners to pre­serve peace and a sta­ble south­east asia and to avoid the use of force to re­solve con­flicts. there is an open pos­si­bil­ity to re­form any sub­stan­tive parts of the treaty and the dec­la­ra­tion, or in­cor­po­rate them into new re­gional norms, when there is a need to re­spond to emerg­ing sit­u­a­tions.

to have a com­mon vi­sion on, and to man­age, col­lec­tive agen­das that are ac­cepted by all par­ties in the Indo-pa­cific re­gion. In­done­sia and asean could de­velop a rules-based re­gional ar­chi­tec­ture that could be worked on to­gether and ac­cepted by all coun­tries in the re­gion, such as coun­tries en­forc­ing mar­itime laws and reg­u­la­tions that are adopted in ac­cor­dance with the United na­tions Con­ven­tion on the law of the seas in the Pa­cific and In­dian oceans

to em­power ex­ist­ing re­gional fo­rums to in­ten­sify sub­stan­tive di­a­logue, im­ple­ment­ing prac­ti­cal co­op­er­a­tion on mar­itime, se­cu­rity and eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment is­sues and build­ing con­fi­dence

among asean mem­bers and all coun­tries in the Indo-pa­cific re­gion. Pos­si­ble ar­eas of co­op­er­a­tion among coun­tries in the re­gion are re­gional con­nec­tiv­ity, in­fra­struc­ture de­vel­op­ment, mar­itime safety, en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion, dis­as­ter man­age­ment and com­bat­ing transna­tional crimes (for ex­am­ple, ter­ror­ism; il­le­gal, un­re­ported and un­reg­u­lated fish­ing; and il­licit drugs).

to cre­ate an ef­fec­tive con­sen­sus-based ap­proach in or­der to man­age the length of ne­go­ti­a­tions in an ef­fec­tive and proper way. In ad­di­tion, the Indo-pa­cific frame­work should have ef­fec­tive mech­a­nisms to de-es­ca­late con­flicts and to find peace­ful so­lu­tions to po­ten­tial dis­putes.

to avoid over­lap­ping frame­works of re­gional and sub-re­gional ini­tia­tives in the Pa­cific and In­dian Oceans by es­tab­lish­ing a co­her­ent struc­ture for mu­tual sup­port among dif­fer­ent ini­tia­tives. the em­pow­er­ment of ex­ist­ing re­gional ini­tia­tives could be done by In­done­sia and asean. a co­or­di­nated net­work of bi­lat­eral co­op­er­a­tion, asean-led mech­a­nisms and re­gional ini­tia­tives out­side asean should be pro­posed and de­vel­oped by In­done­sia and asean through an ef­fi­cient, flex­i­ble and ef­fec­tive in­sti­tu­tional con­nec­tiv­ity among rel­e­vant re­gional ini­tia­tives (for ex­am­ple, the eas, asean meet­ings, and arf in con­junc­tion with Iora sum­mits). the net­work could pos­si­bly co­or­di­nate shared agen­das based on com­mon in­ter­ests in asean and the In­dopa­cific re­gion to be dis­cussed, agreed and im­ple­mented by these in­ter­con­nected fo­rums.

Be­ginda pak­pa­han is the au­thor of “in­done­sia, asean & un­cer­tainty of in­ter­na­tional relations” (kom­pas book pub­lisher, 2018), and a po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic an­a­lyst on global af­fairs at the uni­ver­sity of in­done­sia in jakarta. he holds a phd in pol­i­tics and in­ter­na­tional relations from the uni­ver­sity of Ed­in­burgh, uk.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Cambodia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.