Date & time
For decades, structural realists have argued that states are likely to either balance against or bandwagon with larger, potentially threatening states. However, studies on state responses to the rise of China in the post-Cold War era have indicated a much more complex picture, as states attempt to find a comfortable balance between maintaining strategic autonomy and economic cooperation with China. In this research project, I examine how Indonesia – a large, democratic country with a developing economy and aspirations of regional leadership of its own – has responded to the rise of China. I approach this question by examining how domestic debates on the “China threat” influence Indonesia’s response to a rising China’s foreign policy in Southeast Asia from 1990 until 2017. This empirical study, based on extensive field research, finds that instead of balancing against China, Indonesian leaders have opted to hedge against it. While this hedging strategy is partly the result of the strategic uncertainties of the international system, the complexity of Indonesia’s domestic politics determines how Indonesia hedges. In the post-Suharto era, the necessity for presidents to maintain broad coalitions to stay in power discourage ambitious foreign policies, as it could destabilize the economic interests of coalition partners.
About the Speaker
Gatra Priyandita has been a PhD candidate at the Department of Political and Social Change since 2016. He was previously a research assistant at Jinan University. He received a Bachelor of Asia-Pacific Security (Honours) from the ANU in 2014.