IndonesiaChina

in Harmony, in Conflict, and in Interest

In 2010, Indonesia and China celebrates 60th year of their diplomatic and bilateral relationship, namely, “Year of Friendship Indonesia-China”. Therefore, Indonesia-China agreed to continue their mutual relationship forward by doing or creating Strategic Partnership between both countries. For example, lately on October 19th in Beijing, Indonesia and China agreed economic cooperation such as funding, trade, investment, and infrastructure development. Actually, these relationship and cooperation was held before. It is important for Indonesia and China for continuing this relationship forward by consideration of stability and interaction in international world. For example, the Chinese government has disbursed US$ 240 million for trade and investment under a funding agreement between Indonesia and Exim Bank with the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China.

Beside economic, Indonesia and China also cooperate in culture. After Bali well known internationally, now Solo is also on progress. The latest update is Vice Minister Boediono was launched Solo as City of Charm, as Indonesia mascot in their relationship with China along many periods. One of main considerations for this choice: Solo is a trade city and rich of Indonesian Chinese ethnic, by population and by culture. By that, there is an expectation that Indonesia can attract more tourists from China.

Next, there are some questions about Indonesia-China relationship:

1) Are there any conflicts between both countries? How they fix it?

2) How Indonesian foreign policy in era President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono generally and specially, in context for facing China’s economy growth?

3) What Indonesia can learn from China, by their similarity and difference?

The answers for those questions are available in explanation and analysis below.

Domestic Problems in Infrastructure Development

Beyond cooperation, in fact, local contractor is disappointed for its infrastructure projects. Because in process, China just involves their own contractor without local contractor from Indonesia. But, we have noted that there is contribution from local contractor in certain project, like Suramadu Bridge, which is China take charge for 60 percent, and local contractor (Indonesia), for 40 percent. Before, Minister of Public Works, have sent letter to China Embassy about in future, there is requirement for infrastructure project by China. Each project should involve at least, 3 domestic contractor.[2]

The South China Sea Conflict

Actually, dispute of South China Sea is not totally related with Indonesia, but also with ASEAN such as Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei. China claimed that the entire sea belong to China based on historical data, note, cite, ancient document, map, mainly in claiming for Archipelago Spratly and Paracel. This is contrast to EEZ which claimed the sharing of South China Sea belongs to some countries in ASEAN. For Indonesia its self, China have bilateral conflict in claiming that part of Natunas sea until Bangka Island and 20 miles from West Kalimantan Barat and around Vietnam are belongs to China. This is because Natunas contain vital interest as important sail route that connects North and South, also East and West.[2]

The South China Sea Conflict

Actually, dispute of South China Sea is not totally related with Indonesia, but also with ASEAN such as Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei. China claimed that the entire sea belong to China based on historical data, note, cite, ancient document, map, mainly in claiming for Archipelago Spratly and Paracel. This is contrast to EEZ which claimed the sharing of South China Sea belongs to some countries in ASEAN. For Indonesia its self, China have bilateral conflict in claiming that part of Natunas sea until Bangka Island and 20 miles from West Kalimantan Barat and around Vietnam are belongs to China. This is because Natunas contain vital interest as important sail route that connects North and South, also East and West.[3]

China’s Peaceful Development 

First of all, China adheres to the road of peaceful development, in the world generally and its neighbor specially. China will be mainly based on its strength and self-reliance, the vast domestic market, rich human resources, abundant accumulation of capital and require a very long time. So, this long term efforts make China probably and slow but sure to realize its goal to rise. China’s rise will definitely bring positive impact on the peace, stability and development of Asia and the world.[1]

China’s development on peace and relationship to other countries means China needs links, and important for China to linked with its neighbor first. For instance, in economy, goods from China suitable by its lower price or necessity or similarity of taste in Asian countries, which are consist of developing countries. One of all is Indonesia.

And the others, in security, China adheres to a concept about new security featuring mutual trust, benefit, equality, and coordination. For its implication, China build and doing rapprochement with Asian countries or Southeast Asia. This concept about stability, peace, and security supposed to be a solution for each problem and conflict between China and others, especially Indonesia. Such as, in solving Indonesia domestic problem caused by infrastructure project from China as mentioned above.

Then, how about the South China Sea conflict? ASEAN and Indonesia admitted that this problem seems difficult to be solved. Mainly, it is all about state sovereignty and territory as a power. As well as Indonesia, China, or other ASEAN countries, has their own interest with the territory that supposed belong to them. Seems that the solution to these still in long term progress, although bilateral cooperation in economy still go on. For simple, all countries that involve should follow decision on EEZ just like before. But the most important is, China still commits to its peaceful development concept and for that, Indonesia should keep active to increase economic and military cooperation. Surely, at the same time Indonesia keep sharp and aware for every update issue in Spratly and Paracel. To do this duty, Indonesia under ASEAN hold main role in dispute settlement by arranging mutual and peace arrangement between ASEAN-China.

Indonesian Foreign Policy under Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono

The main discussion about Susilo’s foreign policy is “all directions foreign policy” which is in implementation, Indonesia can have “a million friends, zero enemy.” In foreign affairs, t, there is not only willingness by President but this willingness is also have to designed in a policy. Willingness needs a method or action so that policy and its aim can be reached, in this context, that policy is refers to diplomacy policy “a million friends, zero enemy”. So on, President and elite in Indonesia have to find what method that exactly implemented and represents Indonesia’s interest in international society. [4]

Critics

Foreign policy is a manifestation of national interests and has to show absolute sovereign identity. Indeed, “a million friends zero enemy” precisely make Indonesian position getting weak in international world. Many expert and observer said that this is like show our own weakness to others. Especially in context of conflict Indonesia-Malaysia lately, Indonesia has nothing to do while Malaysia disturbs Indonesian sovereignty.

For now, there no clear mission from foreign policy of Indonesia. What to do and what to reach. Indonesia doesn’t know his position. Even though, what Susilo want from his policy is peace, but his statement about zero enemy just less acceptable.

In comparison, let’s see what China means in peaceful development as explained before. Peace concept and security for China is keeping and raising growth economy and prosperity together other countries. It means that there is always peace, but there’s also enemy. Simply, peace means there are many friends, and while there’s enemy, enemy should feel reluctant because consider for peace. Different to zero enemy million friends, there is excessive concept on peace between countries. This excessive tend to wrong usage. For instance, if other countries e.g. Malaysia make dishonest to Indonesia, so Indonesia cannot do anything for that. Because Indonesia just want zero enemy. Totally fool for Indonesia.

Furthermore, we can expect that elites politics in Indonesia know what to do next to apply ‘zero enemy million friends’ in track, such as improve high quality of diplomacy as a soft power that counts.

So far, there is no significant conflict between Indonesia and China beside The South China Sea conflict. But, if there’s really a conflict between them, so there’s possible Indonesia can just let go every conflict and possible to became once again, as defeated side.

Indonesia and China’s Power

  1. Economy

Beyond mutual benefit on economy cooperation, in fact, there is a worry whether economic growth in China can be a threat for Indonesia, also for ASEAN. For instance, involvement Indonesia in China ASEAN Free Trade Area (CAFTA) can make other impacts. In negative ways, Indonesia can’t stop more flow of goods from China, while Indonesia still try to expand and increase export. But, the problem is, Indonesian export is not as big as its import. So, there’s always possibility in deficit on trading.

Besides, goods from China are also produced by domestic or local company. It will increase competition between local products and import products. And unfortunately, goods from China generally have low prices in compare with similar local products.

In this case however, because Indonesia is in CAFTA arrangement, so the way to increase profit in trading and to decrease deficit is stimulating local company to produce product and quality that would be exported to many countries, not only China, but for market in large.

2. Soft Power

Besides economy and politic, China’s soft power such as culture, cuisine, cinema, art, acupuncture, herbal medicine and fashion have penetrated into regional ASEAN, include Indonesia. Since Meteor Garden, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, electronic Huawei give great influence for Indonesia people. Besides, Indonesia have many ethnic Chinese in Indonesia, which their culture still have similarity with China state. In Indonesia its self, television news program such as Metro Xinwen in Metro TV announce news around China in Mandarin speaking.[5]

In this case, however, besides keep taste for culture, cuisine, or movie from China, actually Indonesia can increase its original culture. Balancing culture mission and tourism promotion original Indonesia with China actually can rich diversity culture of Indonesian people. Back to simplest idea, take other kindness or value but leave their badness.

What Indonesia Can Learn From Its Relationship with China

Generally, there are 3 kinds of lesson from China. These are similarities but also differences that Indonesia can take for its future.

1. Agriculture

China is agrarian, as well as Indonesia. But China can fulfill all demands of rice and food needs whereas this country also has many population, around 1,3 million people. One of China’s efforts is to stimulate and take care their agriculture and farmer. This is what Indonesia doesn’t do until now.

2. Population

China’s government always takes care and tries to find how their people can useful for country. For this reason, that’s why education and skill are improved for all of China’s people. Moreover, China also give scholarship for its people to study abroad and then come back to China to implement their science and skill. In Indonesia, education exactly is not main component. Mental script and culture of Indonesia are still lack of education value. Government’s effort to increase education stills weak and not effectives, mainly caused by their corruption culture. In comparison to China, people scared to corrupt, because the punishment is serious, dead.

3. Conflict Settlement

Indonesia can learn about the way of conflict settlement. For example, while China is in conflict with Japan, about territory (state border) and arrestment China’s people by Japan government. In this case, China’s reaction is firm and explicit so that Japan government releases their people directly. Whereas, China also in concept of peaceful development but China can make its enemy   feels reluctant. As explained before, difference with Indonesia’s act in settlement of conflict with Malaysia.

Conclusion

Finally, for conclusion, Indonesia China cooperation are in mutual benefit. But, Indonesia must take care and still keeping active to sharpen its relationship so that the mutual benefit is not change to a threat. Besides, many lesson that Indonesia can learn from its cooperation. This is for the future improvement and development. Foreign policy in Indonesia should be improved so that can be clear about Indonesian mission and vision in international system. Zero enemy, a million friends seems hard and impossible to applied.


[1] Eric Teo Chu Cheow, “ASEAN+3: The Roles of ASEAN and China” in Asean-China Relations Realities and Prospects, ed. Saw Swee-Hock dkk. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, pg.63-64.


[1] Interview with Vice Minister of Public Works, Hermanto Dardak by matanews.com. Downloaded on October, 27th 2010 from http://matanews.com/2010/06/17/china-kuasai-proyek-infrastruktur-indonesia/

[2] Judiono, Johanes. “Mencermati Sengketa Teritorial Laut Cina Selatan (Kasus Kepulauan Spratly dan Paracel”. Makalah Falsafah Sains Program Pasca Sarjana Institut Pertanian Bogor, Januari 2003.

[3] Cai Bingkui, “China’s Development and Relations with its East Asian Neighbours” in Asean-China Relations Realities and Prospects, ed. Saw Swee-Hock dkk. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, pg. 27-30.

[4] Transkrip Pidato Kenegaraan Presiden RI dalam rangka HUT ke-65 Proklamasi Kemerdekaan RI, Jakarta, 16 Agustus 2010. Downloaded on October 27th 2010 from website Ministry of Foreign Affairs http://www.deplu.go.id/Pages/SpeechTranscriptionDisplay.aspx?Name1=Pidato&Name2=Presiden&IDP=673&l=id

[5] Eric Teo Chu Cheow, “ASEAN+3: The Roles of ASEAN and China” in Asean-China Relations Realities and Prospects, ed. Saw Swee-Hock dkk. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, pg.63-64.

DAFTAR PUSTAKA

Cai Bingkui, “China’s Development and Relations with its East Asian Neighbours” in Asean-China Relations Realities and Prospects, ed. Saw Swee-Hock dkk. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, pg. 27-30.

Eric Teo Chu Cheow, “ASEAN+3: The Roles of ASEAN and China” in Asean-China Relations Realities and Prospects, ed. Saw Swee-Hock dkk. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, pg.63-64.

Judiono, Johanes. “Mencermati Sengketa Teritorial Laut Cina Selatan (Kasus Kepulauan Spratly dan Paracel”. Makalah Falsafah Sains Program Pasca Sarjana Institut Pertanian Bogor, Januari 2003.

Website

http://matanews.com/2010/06/17/china-kuasai-proyek-infrastruktur-indonesia/

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