Indonesia urged to equate Indo-Pacific concept with influential countries

Indonesia urged to equate Indo-Pacific concept with influential countries

President Joko Widodo at the ASEAN-Australia Informal Breakfast Summit at the Suntec Convention Center, Singapore, Wednesday. (Palace Press Bureau)

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Padjadjaran University`s International Relations Expert Teuku Rezasyah opined it is time for Indonesia to build dialog with influential countries, including the United States, China, Japan, and Australia, in the region to equate the Indo-Pacific concept.

"Continue to build dialogue with the United States, the People`s Republic of China, Japan, and Australia to increase bilateral trade and their investment in Indonesia," Rezasyah remarked when contacted in Singapore on Wednesday.

Indonesia must then build a period of mutual trust that the Indo-Pacific will not harm the four aforementioned countries in the long run.

"In particular, Indonesia has mobilized the ASEAN to jointly change the name of the Indo-Pacific to the Pacific-Indo, so as not to again give an impression as an architecture made in the United States," he noted.

In connection with Indonesia`s efforts to finalize the idea of the Indo-Pacific, the first is to take into account the perceptions of various ministries and institutions in the Indonesian bureaucracy, as this Indo-Pacific idea intersects with the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation, Regional Closer Economic Cooperation, and the ASEAN-China Free Trade Agreement being increasingly used to form a legal framework and was well promoted.

"Then, create a blueprint of Indonesia`s involvement in various regional economic structures, with Indonesia as an active and balancing actor from various scenarios of economic competition in many large countries at once," he noted.

President Joko Widodo had earlier discussed the development of the concept of cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region during the plenary session of the 33rd Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit at the Suntec Convention Center, Singapore.

"In order for centrality to be maintained, there is no other way for ASEAN except to use the East Asia Summit as the main platform for discussing this concept," the president noted in a speech on Tuesday night.

The uncertain conditions and magnitude of the challenges faced in the Indo-Pacific region can pose a threat to peace, stability, and prosperity in relation to the constellation of global powers.

The president added that ASEAN`s position in the Indo-Pacific region must be able to become a hub, play its role, and turn threats into increased cooperation.

"The ASEAN must remain a driver for peace and prosperity. The ASEAN must be able to turn potential threats into cooperation, the potential for tension to become peace," Jokowi noted.

In the meantime, Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi unveiled the Southeast Asian state`s Indo-Pacific cooperation concept that is based on the principles of being open, transparent, and inclusive; promoting the habit of dialogue, cooperation, and friendship; and upholding international law.

According to Marsudi, the concept was developed in recognition of the need for ASEAN to respond with a united front to emerging regional issues, thereby preserving the bloc`s centrality.

The Indo-Pacific concept also aims to link new Indian Ocean investments with mature investments in the Asia-Pacific, she stated.

This Indo-Pacific concept -- stressing ASEAN unity and centrality -- has received positive responses from ASEAN member states and the bloc`s dialogue partners, with Indonesia planning to table the strategy as the main agenda item at the upcoming 13th East Asia Summit (EAS) in November 2018.

Indonesia`s proposal of an ASEAN Indo-Pacific concept is significant for three reasons.

Jakarta`s role in conceptualizing the concept and seeking agreement from ASEAN and its dialogue partners cements its status as the unofficial leader of ASEAN and as a global middle power.

While ASEAN traditionally eschews the delineation of a leader among its 10 states, Indonesia -- being the largest member both in geographical size and population, as well as being one of ASEAN`s founding states -- has long been viewed as having both the clout and capacity to spearhead critical regional initiatives.

The articulation of an Indo-Pacific strategy also speaks to Indonesia`s branding of itself internationally as a global maritime axis. This perpetuates Jakarta`s vision of being the -- Global Maritime Fulcrum -- with key policy thrusts of ramping up naval capabilities, enhancing maritime trade and connectivity, and safeguarding marine resources in its territorial waters.

At the regional level, the Indo-Pacific cooperation concept is significant, as it entrenches ASEAN centrality by placing ASEAN in the driver`s seat in managing regional geopolitics and addressing the multifaceted security and economic challenges.

At the international level, Indonesia`s and subsequently ASEAN`s proposal of a cogent Indo-Pacific partnership strategy serves to offset great power politics by providing a view independent from the United States, China, and other interested powers, such as India, Japan, or Australia, Foreign Minister Marsudi added.

Editing by Sri Haryati