Ardhitya Eduard Yeremia Lalisang and Darang S. Candra

Indonesia’s Global Maritime Fulcrum & China’s Belt Road Initiative: A match made at sea?

China has become Indonesia’s largest trading partner and its third largest foreign investor. Indonesia’s Global Maritime Fulcrum and China’s Belt Road Initiative at first glance seem to be like a perfect match. But bilateral relations have always been complicated by being entangled with Indonesian domestic politics.

In late 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping introduced China’s ambitious plan to build the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road (MSR) to the world stage. Astana and Jakarta, the capital cities of Kazakhstan and Indonesia, respectively, were chosen as the locations for China to inform these two proposals which are now known as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

As the biggest country in Southeast Asia with a population of 266 million and more than 17.000 islands, which stretch 5.000 kilometres from east to west, Indonesia sits at the nexus of global trade. Beijing’s choice of Jakarta to be the place for Xi Jinping to announce China’s plan to build the MSR is indicative of Chinese leaders’ clear understanding of the potential important role of Indonesia in their ambitious grand scheme.

Truly a match made at sea?

In the present analysis Indonesia’s Global Maritime Fulcrum & China’s Belt Road Initiative - a match made at sea?, two Indonesian foreign policy experts, reflect critically on the complementarity of Indonesia’s Global Maritime Fulcrum and China’s Belt Road Initiative.

They doubt, that the GMF and BRI will further Indonesia’s strategic interest in areas besides diplomacy and investment. The various domestic political constraints as well as a seemingly top-down approach with no bottom-up backup in the implementation of both the BRI and GMF, shows relatively weak results in terms of economic cooperation and people-to-people relations.

Most recently, in times of the corona-crisis Chinese foreign policy however announced, that the joint fight against the outbreak would catalyse a “Silk Road of health care”.

Lalisang, Ardhitya Eduard Yeremia; Candra, Darang S.

Indonesiaʿs Global Maritime Fulcrum & Chinaʿs Belt Road Initiative

A match made at sea?
Jakarta, 2020

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