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Indonesia’s Role as a Peacemaker

Just like any other countries in Southeast Asia, Indonesia adheres to the “one China” policy of the People’s Republic of China. This means that Indonesia recognizes the People’s Republic of China as the only legitimate government of China. However, despite this policy, there has been a fostering of relations between Indonesia and Taiwan over the past decade. This noteworthy diplomatic achievement could be attributed to two key factors:

First, the regional achievements of the Taiwanese government’s New Southbound Policy; and second, the willingness of Indonesian government to navigate a delicate balance between its economic and diplomatic interests.

Indonesia’s noteworthy role as a peacemaker within the Asia-Pacific landscape solidifies its standing as a cherished diplomatic partner for Taiwan. A case in point arose in November last year, when Indonesia was poised to host the G20 summit in Bali. Despite mounting pressure from Western nations, particularly Ukraine, Indonesia, under the guidance of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, took a principled stance against the exclusion of Russia from the summit’s proceedings. Remarkably, Widodo extended an invitation to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy — an unconventional move considering Ukraine is not a member of the G20 yet it underscores Indonesia’s commitment to fostering open dialogue and mutual understanding.

Earlier last year, Widodo marked a milestone by becoming the first Asian leader to traverse both Ukrainian and Russian soil since their conflict erupted. His pivotal mission was that of a peace-broker, striving to mend the divide between these two nations entangled in turmoil. This resolute endeavor showcased Indonesia’s dedication to extending its commitment to peace beyond its own borders.

Indonesia’s peacemaking proclivity also extends to its interactions with China. In the lead-up to the ASEAN-China meeting focused on potentially adopting a code of conduct (COC) for the South China Sea, Indonesian Minister of Foreign Affairs Retno Marsudi orchestrated a proactive step. She arranged a meeting in Jakarta with her Chinese counterpart, former Chinese foreign minister Qin Gang (秦剛), with the intention of hastening discussions concerning the South China Sea COC. This proactive approach further highlights Indonesia’s role as a diplomatic mediator and its commitment to regional stability.

Against the backdrop of escalating tensions surrounding the South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait, Indonesia’s pivotal role is poised to ascend in significance. This is particularly pertinent in light of recent developments, such as the US gaining access to four military bases through a partnership with the Philippines.

In recent years, Beijing has adopted a more assertive and aggressive approach in addressing its territorial concerns. The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) conducted large-scale military exercises, seemingly aimed at intimidating Taiwan, particularly following significant diplomatic events. These exercises were strategically timed in response to events like the visit of then-US House speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan in August last year and President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) person-to-person meeting with US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in the US. Subsequently, the PLA announced further military drills in April. Despite the absence of direct military confrontation, China has unmistakably demonstrated its resolve to counter the deepening of ties between Taiwan and its diplomatic partners.

In light of this geopolitical uncertainty, it is imperative that Taiwan expand its diplomatic horizons beyond. Indonesia should a prime candidate. Unlike the US, Indonesia does not possess the stature of a great power, potentially rendering China less confrontational to the deepening of Indonesia-Taiwan relations. Moreover, Indonesia’s role as a willing and widely recognized peacemaker could significantly benefit Taiwan, particularly during tumultuous periods. Positioned as a low-risk, high-return diplomatic partner, Indonesia stands out as a stable and cooperative ally in an increasingly unstable region.

Source : TaipeiTimes