Jakarta in Balancing Act as Ties Deepen with Beijing, Analysts Say

Jakarta in Balancing Act as Ties Deepen with Beijing, Analysts Say

Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi (third from right) speaks with Luhut Pandjaitan, Indonesia’s coordinating minister for maritime affairs and investments, during a meeting in Parapat, Indonesia, Jan. 13, 2021.Handout from Indonesia’s Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Investments via AFP

Ties are growing between Indonesia and China, as Jakarta balances economic interests with concerns about Beijing’s expansive territorial claims and alleged human rights abuses, analysts say. China is not the biggest investor in Indonesia, but its investments in Southeast Asia’s largest and most populous country have grown consistently, doubling to almost $4.8 billion in 2020 from $2.4 billion in 2017.

“Everything seems to come from China nowadays – vaccines, investment – and Mr. Luhut has been at the forefront of this,” Indonesian business tycoon Chairul Tanjung quipped to senior minister Luhut Pandjaitan during an online event in February. Luhut, Indonesia’s coordinating minister for maritime affairs and investment, and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi have met twice since the start of the year.

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