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As security tensions heighten in the Indo-Pacific, Australia is well placed to strengthen its relationship with Indonesia by stepping up military cooperation to jointly address China's growing influence in our region.


Indonesia’s relationship with China is one of its most complicated and significant relationships. More enigmatic than its relationship with the United States, Indonesia’s relationship with China is of similar importance, not least by dint of its economic power and willingness to invest. Nevertheless, for reasons of history, geography and politics, Indonesia’s stance towards China is one of deep ambivalence.

Indonesia does not have any official territorial disputes with China. Unlike the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei, its maritime territory in the South China Sea is not included in China’s nine-dash-line claim. The dominant driver in the framing of Indonesia’s foreign policy, since the beginning of the Suharto regime in 1965, has been the Indonesian military. It is wary of China but knows that, like its ASEAN neighbours, it is in no position, and likely never will be, to confront Chinese military aggression beyond its borders. Fortunately for Indonesia, short of a war in the region, such a scenario is unlikely. Should Beijing escalate matters across the Taiwan Strait, for example, Indonesia will be deeply uncomfortable and will have little capacity or desire to be involved directly in any response.

Tensions dating back to the middle of the Cold War continue to shape contemporary relations between these two very different Asian giants. Following its declaration of independence in 1945, Indonesia enjoyed positive relations with China. In 1965, relations were so strong that the left-leaning President Sukarno flamboyantly declared an ‘anti-imperialist axis’ that included Peking.[1] Under Sukarno, the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI – Partai Komunis Indonesia) was the largest communist party in the world outside of those in government in Russia and China. The PKI won 16% of the national vote (and twice as much in Java) in the 1955 parliamentary elections and was said to have 2 million members. It backed Sukarno’s authoritarian swerve to ‘guided democracy’ in 1959 and welcomed his ideological pivot to Nasakom: nationalism (nasionalisme), religion (agama) and communism (komunism).

Two years later, however, the new, US-aligned, military-backed, ‘New Order’ regime of General Suharto suspended diplomatic relations with China based on allegations that it had played a role in the mysterious 1965 ‘coup attempt’,[2] which precipitated the slaughter of more than 500,000 alleged PKI members and sympathisers. Many of the victims were ethnic Chinese and large numbers of those targeted figured in lists provided by the CIA.[3] While Indonesia-China relations were officially restored on 8 August 1990, the Suharto regime remained anxious about China, choosing to amplify the threat of Chinese communist subversion as reason for its sustained vigilance.[4]

Under Suharto, Indonesia’s minority Chinese population—today objectively estimated to represent just 1.2% of Indonesian society but previously presented as being three or four times larger—was made a scapegoat. Communism was framed as an ever-constant threat and all discussion of the violent anti-PKI pogrom of 1965-66 was taboo. Chinese support for the PKI was a tiny element of a complex story, but members of Indonesia’s small but highly visible ethnic-Chinese population, most of whom spoke Indonesian or Javanese rather than Mandarin or other Chinese languages, were made to bear the brunt of this fear campaign. Suharto banned the teaching and printing of Chinese language material and the celebration of Chinese festivals and cultural events, such as the Lunar New Year, and encouraged Indonesian Chinese to adopt Indonesian names. At the same time, he built strong economic partnerships and alliances with elite ethnic-Chinese families, leading to the establishment of the majority of Indonesia’s modern corporations.

Under the presidency of Abdurrahman Wahid (1999-2001), the anti-Chinese restrictions of the Suharto regime were swept away, and the Javanese Islamic leader, democratic reformer, and long-time champion of minority rights, proudly spoke of his family in East Java benefiting from mixed Chinese ancestory. And following him both President Megawati Sukarnoputri and President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono continued support for a series of social and political reforms that recognised and supported Indonesians of Chinese heritage.

At the same time, the remarkable rise of China fostered respect and fuelled curiosity in China. If China failed to build the sort of soft power that Japan and South Korea enjoyed across Southeast Asia, its economic transformation nevertheless captured the imagination of many. This included many middle-class Indonesians, who encouraged their children to learn Mandarin Chinese and to look to China for opportunities in business and education.

Several decades on from the Suharto years, and diplomatic relations between Indonesia and China have ostensibly normalised. Since taking office in 2014, the incumbent president, Joko Widodo (Jokowi), has placed considerable emphasis on developing Indonesia’s relationship with China. One of his first initiatives was to officially rehabilitate the use in Indonesian of the Hokkien words ‘Tiongkok’ (Middle Kingdom) and ‘Tionghoa’ for the nation and people of China, in an effort to overturn the stigma that some associated with the word ‘Cina’. Ever the pragmatist, Jokowi’s reason for doing so appears, in part, to be China’s preparedness to finance many of the infrastructure projects Indonesia needs if it is to improve domestic connectivity and join the top 10 global economies by 2025.[5]

In its current form, however, the Jokowi administration’s China policy remains tactical and somewhat naïve, and appears to be driven more by opportunism and elite vested interests rather than clearly-articulated long-term national interests. In simple terms, the administration has sought to have its moon cake and eat it too. It has sought to minimise confrontation with China in the South China Sea so as not to affect Chinese investment in Indonesian infrastructure, from which many Indonesian elites derive personal benefit. At the same time, Indonesia’s military continues to cooperate principally with the West, only engaging China in military cooperation on a sporadic basis.

Policy of non-alignment

This muddling-through policy is underpinned by Indonesia’s longstanding foreign policy doctrine of non-alignment or ‘bebas dan aktif’(free and active)—a doctrine inspired by the bipolarity of the Cold War period and Indonesia’s refusal to directly side with either the United States or Soviet Union, but  rather to take a middle path and ‘row between two reefs’ (mendayung diantara dua karang). More contemporary scholarly and bureaucratic interpretations of the policy have (re)defined it as ‘pragmatic equidistance’,[6]jalan tengah’ (the middle way),[7] and ‘dynamic equilibrium’.[8] The significance of bebas dan aktif cannot be understated; indeed, it is a crucial part of Indonesia’s national identity, having been incorporated in Indonesian foreign policy from the birth of the Indonesian nation. The geo-political climate of East Asia and the western Pacific, however, arguably demands that Indonesia reinterpret bebas dan aktif in a way that reflects the exigencies of growing Chinese influence in that bloc.

Tactical, rather than strategic

Insofar as it is purely tactical, Indonesia’s current China policy comprises initiatives and incremental steps taken on a day-to-day basis, but it lacks a discernible over-arching strategy, that is, long-term goals and an achievable vision. Indonesia’s China policy appears devoid of any meaningful strategic consideration of what East Asia and the western Pacific might look like under Chinese hegemony or Pax Sinica (Chinese peace).[9] Currently, it rests on the hope that Chinese hegemony will never be realised. And while Indonesia might be able to maintain the status quo in the short- to medium-term - and the notion of Pax Sinica might be hyperbolic, leading figures, including former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and Australian defence expert Hugh White, argue that the current trajectory of Chinese economic and military growth suggests that Southeast Asia has perhaps just 20 to 30 more years until China dictates Southeast Asian regional order.[10] Indonesia’s insouciance about this looming development brings to mind what Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu wrote some 2,500 years ago, ‘Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat’.[11]

Predictions of China’s rise to regional dominance are based on estimates that, by 2050, China’s GDP could be double that of the United States. As Hugh White asserts, history has shown that ‘ultimately, wealth is power’.[12] The proposition that China could both undergo fundamental social and economic transformation itself and transform the economies of the rest of Asia —but that the strategic order in the region would remain the unaltered—appears more than a little naïve. Indeed, other than post-War Japan, there has never been a economically powerful country that was not militarily strong, nor a militarily powerful country that was not economically strong,.

China is only too conscious of this dynamic. Indeed, why else would it increase its foreign direct investment (FDI) into Indonesia by almost 600% between 2015 and 2020, and build goodwill by selling countless doses of Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccine to Indonesia to protect the Indonesian population, only to then continue to push the limits—both legally and literally—in Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone EEZ? The simplest explanation is because it can. The sheer size of its economy means it can afford to make such an investment in Indonesia, and its military might means that it can command de facto control of the South China Sea, regardless of any ruling an international tribunal might issue.

It appears, however, that one way China has perpetuated this de facto control over Indonesia’s interests has been by placating Indonesia’s political elite. One indication of this is a US$6 billion loan from China that happened to make its way into three Indonesian state-owned banks—BRI, BNI, and Mandiri—not long after the 2016 conflict associated with Chinese incursions into the EEZ of Indonesia’s Natuna Islands appeared to resolve itself. While not front-page news, it is public knowledge that that money arrived in those accounts shortly after the conflict subsided. There has been little interest, however, in investigating the circumstances behind these windfall deposits.

In turn, Indonesia’s flaccid response to these incursions can be chalked up to a number of factors. First, as the Indonesian saying ‘kamu tenggang rasa apapun’ (you can tolerate anything if you have to) suggests, Indonesia’s Foreign Ministry, Kemlu (Kementerian Luar Negeri), takes great pains to avoid conflict and harsh words. This fits nicely with its desire to minimise confrontation with China at the moment.

Kemlu has, over time, sought to adopt a more principled position in its dealings with all countries, including China. This was, of course, punctuated by the 2016 Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) ruling that China’s claims to the South China Sea are unfounded. China, however, remains unbothered by the PCA’s ruling, as is evidenced by its continuing de facto control of the South China Sea. But Indonesia’s insistence that it is not a claimant in its North Natuna Sea because its EEZ is protected under UNCLOS[13] arguably does not serve Indonesian interests nearly as much as Indonesia might think. It has, of course, done little to prevent Chinese incursions.

That said, it is aimed at providing a diplomatic path to de-escalate matters, as Jokowi knows that military conflict with China could have dire consequences for Indonesia’s ethnic Chinese population. Indeed, the memories of May 1998 and the anti-Chinese ‘riots’, which were orchestrated by elements of the military elite and preceded President Suharto’s political demise, still haunt many Indonesians today, as does the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of alleged communists in 1965, many of whom were killed because of their ethnicity alone.

Furthermore, Indonesia’s navy is a minnow compared to China’s: Indonesian military spending remains at a mere 0.8% of its GDP, and the majority of that meagre sum—approximately 70%—continues to be spent on the army, in accordance with Indonesia’s archaic ‘defence in depth’ doctrine. The ‘defence in depth’ doctrine places far greater emphasis on the army than Indonesia’s naval and air forces, the rationale being that the only way Indonesia might resist and defeat a superior foreign attacker would be by maintaining the semangat (spirit) of the people, who would take it upon themselves to also defend their country. Why the world’s largest archipelagic nation continues to invest what little it allocates to its military in its land forces, rather than naval forces and especially the capacity to monitor and protect littoral waters, beggars belief, but much like bebas dan aktif, it has withstood the test of time.

Elite opportunism

It is little wonder that speculation abounds regarding key figures within Jokowi’s cabinet deriving financial benefit from the Indonesia-China relationship. Given the historical sensitivities surrounding Indonesia’s ethnic Chinese population, China also knows that the easiest way to win influence over Indonesia is not to try to win the hearts and minds of the Indonesian people as a whole, but rather to focus its energy on courting Indonesia’s elite class of ex-military generals/politicians. Indeed, the latter is perfectly content for the companies in which they hold significant stakes to accept Chinese money. The prevailing business culture in Indonesia also aligns well with how China does business, namely in an often untransparent, unregulated manner. This is, of course, distinct from Japan, which has been a longstanding ally of Indonesia’s, but typically conducts business above-board and with transparency.

Japan’s fastidiousness has, on occasion, slowed projects down and somewhat frustrated Jokowi’s sought-after legacy as the infrastructure president, which is contingent on getting as many projects up and running as possible before his second term concludes.[14] The rushed granting of projects to China, however, can lead to precarious outcomes. A case in point is the fraught Jakarta-Bandung high-speed rail (HSR) development, a project Jokowi controversially entrusted to China in 2015, which is now some US$3 billion over budget and not due for completion until late 2022/early 2023—works were initially scheduled to commence in 2016 and be complete by 2019. Such is the comical state of this HSR that renowned senior economist Faisal Basri remarked that not even till the end of time (kiamat) would it see a return on investment.[15] For the purpose of the current government, he is not far wrong. Projections by the HSR coordinating body suggest that it will be at least 40 years before a return on investment is seen.[16] The HSR will also depart not from the centre of Jakarta, but from Halim, in Jakarta’s east, servicing several new property developments owned by tycoons, including Mochtar Riady, along the way. It will then reach its final destination not in Bandung, but at a Summarecon Agung Group property development, some 45 minutes outside the Bandung city centre. These are all red flags and suggestive of the vested interests of certain elites having informed planning decisions.

Indonesia’s military posture

With elite opportunism arguably undermining Indonesia’s geostrategic position vis-à-vis China, Indonesia’s military (Tentara Nasional Indonesia, TNI) might take a larger role as a balancing force. As mentioned, the TNI has a long history of distrusting China and its communist ideology. Furthermore, many of its generals, including its new Commander-in-Chief, Andika Perkasa, have studied in the United States and have displayed a preference to cooperate with the United States, rather than China, as was evidenced in August last year when Indonesia and the United States conducted their largest ever joint military exercise, involving some 3,000 troops.[17]

Indonesia’s Defence Ministry is also conspicuously lacking in China experts, primarily because its officers are keen to avoid the stigma associated with affiliations with communist China. It follows that Indonesia’s military top brass and Defence officials would be far more at ease with Indonesia approaching an arrangement (official or otherwise) with either the Quad (United States, India, Japan, Australia) or AUKUS. Indeed, were matters to escalate in the South China Sea, Indonesia’s best hope would lie with an intervention involving members of AUKUS. Kemlu might have issued a statement in which it ‘[took] note cautiously of the Australian government’s decision to acquire nuclear-powered submarines’,[18] but its response was much more ‘diam seribu bahasa’ (remaining silent in a thousand languages) than anything else; that is to say, it was an exercise in managing the optics, i.e., being seen to maintain bebas dan aktif,managing China’s expectations that Indonesia oppose AUKUS, while tacitly accepting (if not approving) that its neighbour to the south was a party to this new alliance that unofficially seeks to contain Chinese influence.

In military terms, Indonesia’s concerns regarding China’s claims to the South China Sea might make the notion of Indonesia-China military cooperation seem fanciful. The two countries have, however, engaged in piecemeal military exercises on occasion. On 22 March 2011, Indonesia’s Ministry of Defence and China’s State Administration of Science, Technology, and Industry for National Defence (SASTIND) signed a memorandum of understanding.[19] Then, between 2011 and 2014, parts of the two countries’ militaries engaged in certain military exchanges as part of what became known as ‘Sharp Knife’. Indonesia’s preparedness to engage China in military cooperation was, in part, informed by the decision of the US Congress to ban its military cooperating with Kopassus.[20]

Sharp Knife 2011 saw Kopassus and the PLA conduct two weeks of joint exercises in Bandung, where they focused on anti-terrorism drills. Sharp Knife 2012 saw a repeat of those same exercises, but this time in Shandong Province. Sharp Knife Airborne 2013 was expanded to include Indonesian Air Force special forces and PLA Air Force. This was a week-long exercise involving approximately 200 personnel, while Sharp Knife Airborne 2014 then saw the same exercise repeated but in China.[21] The Sharp Knife exchange was ultimately discontinued under Jokowi and his TNI commander, Gatot Nurmantyo, who was much more of a realist when it came to China and its repeated incursions in the South China Sea. Indeed, Gatot deemed China’s actions as contrary to Indonesia’s territorial integrity, rather than a mere misunderstanding about fishing rights.[22]

In terms of defence industrial cooperation, in 2014, Indonesia took the step of equipping its three KCR-40 vessels with C-705 missiles imported from China.[23] But whilst some TNI officers have welcomed China’s preparedness to share its military technology with Indonesia,[24] the underlying distrust of communist China runs deep within TNI, as do suspicions that such preparedness to share brings with it China’s ulterior motive of collecting as much intelligence on Indonesia as possible.

Similarly, Jakarta’s acceptance of Beijing’s offer to aid in the salvage operation of the sunken KRI Nanggala-402 submarine, an aging submarine that suffered an uncontrolled dive on 21 April 2021, was conspicuous. Parts of the vessel—which was built in Germany in 1977 and acquired by Indonesia in 1981[25]—remain in deep water on the sea floor, although three large pieces were successfully retrieved by the Chinese. The submarine, which had a history of problems, was scheduled for a total overhaul in 2020 but this was delayed due to Covid-19.[26] Analysing the salvage operation ‘in the geostrategically sensitive Lombok Strait’, Derek Grossman, senior security and defence analyst at RAND Corporation, noted that ‘China very likely collected valuable oceanographic data during the failed salvage mission’, and Jakarta possibly accepted the offer ‘because China footed the entire bill’.[27]

The salvage operation appeared to boost momentum, with Beijing announcing, a week later, that China and Indonesia were conducting joint naval exercises off the coast of Jakarta. China’s defence ministry said that the drills were part of the PLA Navy’s annual training program.[28] As mentioned, however, the piecemeal nature of this cooperation reveals the lack of strategic thought underpinning it, at least from Indonesia’s side.

According to a leaked document, Indonesia also has plans to spend up to US$124 billion on defence over the next five years,[29] although there is speculation that the relevant draft regulation was deliberately leaked by the Palace in order to scuttle Prabowo’s lavish spending plans as defence minister. Nevertheless, Indonesia has announced plans to purchase Boeing’s F-15EX jet fighter from the United States or Dassault’s Rafale from France, rather than Sukhoi’s Su-35 from Russia. Indonesia had initially chosen the Russian jets at the Dubai Airshow in 2015, but never signed a formal agreement. In March 2020, the Trump administration compelled Jakarta to refuse to proceed with the purchase of the Su-35s, in accordance with the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), a law passed by the United States Congress in 2017 aimed at stopping other countries from cooperating with Iran, North Korea, Russia, and later China, at the military level.[30] The specifics of Australia-Indonesia defence industrial cooperation remain unclear as Australia does not make such information available to the public.[31]

Future opportunities

With Jokowi ending speculation that he might either seek to extend his second term as president, or seek a third term—which would require a constitutional amendment[32]—it will fall to Jokowi’s successor to determine the trajectory of Indonesia’s relationship with China beyond 2024. As China’s power continues to grow, Jokowi’s successor might therefore seek to resolve the current state of affairs in the South China Sea through diplomatic means, for which the East Asia Summit—a diplomatic forum and process comprising the ASEAN member states, Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, the United States, and Russian Federation—might be the most appropriate platform. If this fails, Indonesia is unlikely to be able to maintain the status quo for more than the next couple of decades, after which time all bets are off. Unless, of course, it was to reinterpret bebas dan aktif and do what its military is already doing: forging closer military ties with the United States before China’s economic and military might grows even further.[33]

As China’s star rises, and as American primacy in East Asia and the western Pacific potentially dwindles, Australia may well want Indonesia’s stocks to grow. By 2030, Indonesia is projected to be the seventh largest economy in the world, and by 2050, the world’s fourth largest economy. Indonesia has a young population with the median age being 29.7; a rising urban and middle-class population (more than 155 million); a low national debt (US$416.6 billion – Bank Indonesia, November 2020); abundant natural resources; recent regulatory reforms (primarily, its Job Creation Law); and increased macroeconomic stability and infrastructural development. Indonesia’s substandard administrative capacity and policy capacity, however, typically undermine its aspirations of becoming a greater power. If Indonesia does not realise these aspirations, it will most likely end up acquiescing to Chinese primacy, which is not in Australia’s national interest. Therefore, while the Jokowi administration continues to pursue its policy of non-alignment and reap the benefits of Chinese investment, Australia should accelerate its military cooperation with Indonesia; indeed, the pieces are already in place for this to happen. Indonesia and Australia already have the Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (IACEPA) in place, which, among other things, builds on existing economic and security arrangements. Furthermore, the recent inauguration of Andika Perkasa as TNI Commander-in-Chief is also likely to be beneficial for Australia. Doubts about his human rights record aside,[34] Andika is a United States-educated general and will be more inclined to further increase military engagement and cooperation with the West, rather than China. In lieu of an Indonesian administration with a more strategic outlook, military cooperation is perhaps the best way for Australia and Indonesia to be on the same page when it comes to containing China’s growing influence in East Asia and the western Pacific.


1 Natasha Hamilton-Hart and Dave McRae, ‘Indonesia: Balancing the United States and China, Aiming for Independence’, United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, November 2015, 8.

2 Greta Nabbs-Keller, ‘Growing Convergence, Greater Consequence: The Strategic Implications of Closer Indonesia-China Relations’ (2011) 7(3) Security Challenges 23, 25.

3 Robert Cribb, ‘Behind the coup that backfired: the demise of Indonesia’s Communist Party’, The Conversation (online), 30 September 2015 <…;.

4 Rizal Sukma, Indonesia and China: The Politics of a Troubled Relationship (Routledge, 1990) 3-4.

5 Goals include: Indonesia’s average GDP per capita needs to increase by five, from US$3,000 (today) to US$15,000 per annum; GDP per se needs to increase to US$4.5 trillion (nearly five times the current GDP).

6 Evan Laksmana, ‘Pragmatic Equidistance: How Indonesia Manages its Great Power Relations’ in David Denoon (ed), China, the United States, and the Future of Southeast Asia (New York University Press, 2017).

7 Emirza Adi Syailendra, ‘Indonesia’s Jalan tengah in the new age of great power rivalries’, New Mandala (online), 24 November 2021 <…;.

8 Dewi Fortuna Anwar, ‘Indonesia’s foreign relations: policy shaped by the ideal of “dynamic equilibrium"’, East Asia Forum (online), 4 February 2014 <…;.

9 Lee Jong-Wha, ‘Can Pax Sinica replace Pax Americana?’, The Japan Times (online), 11 August 2021 <…;.

10 On the legitimate threat of Chinese hegemony in East Asia and the western Pacific, see: Henry Kissinger, ‘The Future of U.S.-China Relations: Conflict Is a Choice, Not a Necessity’ (2012) 91(2) Foreign Affairs 44, 45.

11 Some dispute the attribution of this quote to Sun Tzu.

12 Hugh White, The China Choice: Why We Should Share Power (Oxford University Press, 2012) 3.

13 Ismira Lutfia Tisnadibrata, ‘Indonesia Gives New Name to Sea Region North of Natuna Islands’, Benar News (online), 14 July 2017 <…;.

14 Eg, Ben Bland, ‘Dream state: Widodo struggles to build his vision for Indonesia’, Financial Times (online), 22 September 2020 <;

15 Muhammad Idris, ‘Kata Faisal Basri, Sampai Kiamat Pun Kereta Cepat Tak Akan Balik Modal’, Kompas (online), 15 October 2021 <…;

16 Sebastian Strangio, ‘Indonesian Capital Plan Throws China-Backed Rail Link Into Disarray’ The Diplomat (online) <…;

17 ‘Indonesia hails 'new era' for U.S. ties, hosts biggest joint military drills’, Reuters (online), 5 August 2021 <…;.

18 ‘Statement on Australia's Nuclear-powered Submarines Program’, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia(online), 17 September 2021 <…;.

19 ‘Indonesia, China discuss C-705 missile technology transfer’, Antara News (online), 20 August 2013 <…;.

20 Frega Wenas Inkiriwang, “Garuda shield” vs “sharp knife”: operationalising Indonesia’s defence diplomacy’ (2021) 34(6) The Pacific Review 871, 883.

21 Natasha Hamilton-Hart and Dave McRae, ‘Indonesia: Balancing the United States and China, Aiming for Independence’, United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, November 2015, 8.

22 Inkiriwang, above n 22, 885.

23 ‘Indonesia to license produce Chinese C-705 missiles’, Defense Updates (online), 31 January 2013 <…;.

24 Greta Nabbs-Keller, ‘Growing Convergence, Greater Consequence: The Strategic Implications of Closer Indonesia-China Relations’ (2011) 7(3) Security Challenges 23, 33, fn 30.

25 Koya Jibiki, ‘Indonesia looks to triple submarine fleet after Chinese incursions’, Nikkei Asia (online), 30 May 2021 <…;.

26 Stanley Widianto and Kate Lamb, ‘Salvage of Indonesian submarine ends as questions over military hardware loom’, Reuters (online), 2 June 2021 <…;.

27 Derek Grossman, ‘Indonesia is quietly warming up to China’, Foreign Policy (online), 7 June 2021 <…;.

28 Laura Zhou, ‘China, Indonesia hold joint naval exercises near Jakarta’, ABS-CBN (online), 10 May 2021 <…;.

29 Resty Woro Yuniar, ‘Indonesia to buy 8 Italian frigates and hike defence spending as China tensions rise’, South China Morning Post (online), 15 June 2021 <…;.

30 Andrey Gubin, ‘Jakarta’s “heavy heart” over heavy fighters’, The Asia Times (online), 27 December 2021 <…;.

31 Megan Price, ‘Australia is building a billion-dollar arms export industry. This is how weapons can fall in the wrong hands’, The Conversation (online), 26 May 2021 <…;.

32 ‘Indonesia ends Jokowi third term speculation by unveiling 2024 presidential election date’, South China Morning Post (online), 25 January 2022 <…;.

33 At the time of writing Indonesia has indeed, momentarily at least, become a central figure in global diplomacy and must determine whether to disinvite Russia from the October 2022 G20 Summit in Bali. How it addresses this challenge will reveal important insights into its potential future actions.

34 Konradus Epa, ‘Indonesian activists attack Widodo over new army chief pick’, UCA News (online), 23 November 2018 <…;.

Cite Article
(Akbarzadeh et al., 2022)
Akbarzadeh S. et al. 2022. 'Indonesia and China: Geostrategic Implications for the ADF'. Available at: (Accessed: 12 April 2024).
(Akbarzadeh et al., 2022)
Akbarzadeh S. et al. 2022. 'Indonesia and China: Geostrategic Implications for the ADF'. Available at: (Accessed: 12 April 2024).
Shahram Akbarzadeh. et al. "Indonesia and China: Geostrategic Implications for the ADF", The Forge, Published: April 12, 2022, (accessed April 12, 2024).
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