Regional Dilemma: An Indo Pacific region for the Status Quo or for the New Normal?
From 2018 Indonesia’s President Widodo has promoted an Indo-Pacific maritime agenda, supported by East Asian Summit countries and adopted as the ASEAN outlook for Indo-Pacific. This outlook focusses on deepening strategic collaboration in maritime cooperation, connectivity, sustainable development and economic development amongst Indo-Pacific region countries. Traditional superpowers, such as the US, continue to exert their influence into the Indo-Pacific region, while new regional powers, such as China, India, and Indonesia begin to demonstrate their influence. How these countries converge their interests in the region, whether by isolating one country’s rise or promoting strategic collaboration will determine its stability and security. The Indo-Pacific has been the source for newfound tension. China’s One Belt One Road global development agenda encourages developing countries to accept its infrastructure development programs. This is viewed by the West as imposing debt diplomacy, causing them to generate their own Indo-Pacific initiatives to prevent China’s rise. Other countries promote a free and open Indo-Pacific. Implementation of national regional maritime policies may promote either suspicion and miscalculation or genuine strategic collaboration. On the one hand, the US and its allies will continue to endeavour to contain China. On the other hand, Indonesia will strive for strategic collaboration, promoting engagement with China and all interested countries. This paper examines, primarily from an Indonesian perspective, the recent and future evolution of the Indo-Pacific Agenda as interested countries impart their regional policies. It identifies the challenges and opportunities in Indo-Pacific cooperation. By doing so, it sheds light on which actors might be serving as villains or as heroes.
PhD Candidate, Asia Pacific College of Business & Law
Charles Darwin University
Andre Omer Siregar has been a career Indonesian diplomat since 1998 and currently serves as Counsul General in Houston, Texas. Prior to that, he was Director for Asia Pacific African Regional Cooperation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, serving as alternate Senior Official at the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), Asia Cooperation Dialog (ACD), Pacific Island Forum (PIF) and Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) and other regional forums while also coordinating the High-Level Dialogue on Indo Pacific Cooperation and the Indonesian South Pacific Forum (ISPF) in 2019. He was Indonesia’s Consul in Darwin, Australia, from 2015-2018 and from 2003-2014 served as interpreter to Indonesia’s Presidents. Andre completed his MBA and MDT at Monash University, Melbourne, in 1996 and completed his BA’s in Economic from Victoria University Wellington, NZ. Under the supervision of Prof David Price, at the Charles Darwin University School of Law, Andre is conducting research on Indonesia’s Vision of Global Maritim Fulcrum and Indo Pacific agenda.