During December 2019 and January 2020, Indonesia and China have again become involved in a series of confrontations over fisheries to the north of Indonesia’s Natuna Islands. Chinese Coast Guard vessels have accompanied a fleet of fishing boats in an area China says is part of its traditional fishing grounds, but which Indonesia claims as its exclusive economic zone under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
Indonesia has sent naval and civilian patrol vessels in an attempt to force the Chinese craft to leave, and Indonesian President Joko Widodo has personally visited the Natunas to underline the importance of the dispute to Indonesia, as he did in the aftermath of a previous confrontation with China in 2016. What do such incidents tell us about the implications of China’s rise for Indonesia, and how is the Indonesian government tackling the challenge of China as an ever larger strategic and economic power on its doorstep?
In this week’s Talking Indonesia podcast, the first episode for 2020, Dr Dave McRae discusses these issues with Emirza Adi Syailendra, associate research fellow in the Indonesia Program of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, who has written extensively on Indonesia and its foreign policy approach to China.
The Talking Indonesia podcast is co-hosted by Dr Dave McRae from the University of Melbourne’s Asia Institute, Dr Jemma Purdey from Monash University, Dr Dirk Tomsa from La Trobe University, and Dr Charlotte Setijadi from the Singapore Management University.
Photo by M Risyal Hidayat for Antara.