Australian and US submarines in a training exercise in 2019. Photo by US Navy.

Indonesia has expressed persistent reservations about AUKUS, the security pact reached in secret between Australia, the US and the UK and announced in September 2021. Under the pact, the three allies will share defence capabilities, with the initial headline item being Australia’s acquisition of a fleet of nuclear-powered but conventionally-armed submarines.

When AUKUS was announced, Indonesia’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement expressing caution. In 2022, Indonesia also submitted a working paper to a UN review of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty critical of the transfer of submarine nuclear propulsion to non-nuclear weapons states.

What underpins Indonesia’s negative response to AUKUS, and how widely are Indonesia’s views shared in Southeast Asia? What can Indonesia’s response to AUKUS tell us about how Indonesia will seek to manage great power competition between the US and China? Might AUKUS spur Indonesia to alter its own defence acquisition plans?

In this week’s Talking Indonesia podcast, Dr Dave McRae chats with Dr Ahmad Rizky M Umar from the School of Political Science and International Studies at the University of Queensland. Dr Umar is the author of a forthcoming paper on Southeast Asian responses to AUKUS with Yulida Santoso from Universitas Gadjah Mada.

In 2023, the Talking Indonesia podcast is co-hosted by Dr Dave McRae from the Centre for Indonesian Law, Islam and Society at the University of Melbourne, Dr Jemma Purdey from Monash University, Dr Jacqui Baker from Murdoch University, and Tito Ambyo from RMIT.

Look out for a new Talking Indonesia podcast every fortnight. Catch up on previous episodes here, subscribe via Apple Podcasts or listen via your favourite podcasting app.

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