Beijing’s Man in Jakarta

Hard as it may be for Westerners to think that today’s People’s Republic of China, with all of its glaring repressions and slavishness over Covid, could be still a draw for emerging nations…it is. As this latest op-ed in the New York Times from an Australian think tank argues, China is actually gaining ground in much of Asia. A key element in its foreign-policy push is giant Indonesia.  Despite a tense history between the country’s native peoples and its sizable Chinese ethnic population, Beijing has remained a political lodestar for Jakarta. In recent years, as the Times op-ed alludes to, marine minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan has been a key conduit to the PRC. The Chinese foreign ministry keeps touting each engagement with him.  With each of the smaller Southeast Asian states under China’s sway to varying degrees, Indonesia’s lead in this regard is likely as important as any efforts by the Quad (Japan, India and Australia, plus the U.S.) to head off the Asian waters becoming a Chinese sea.

Published by timwferguson

Longtime writer-editor, focusing on topics of business and policy, global and local.

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