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Why (and How) Indonesia must Reduce its Economic Dependence on China



Indonesia and China relationship is perhaps one of the most important diplomatic relations in the Indo-Pacific. As the world’s most and fourth-most populated countries in the world, one would argue that Indonesia and China relationship is extremely important, even though there are many frictions in the relationship, most notably the South China Sea dispute. As a consequence, many experts in Indonesia believe that the Indonesia-China relationship must be augmented. I, however, beg to differ. Behind the strong rhetoric of friendship, cooperation, and other diplomatic jargons lie an unmistakable sign of economic dependency on China. As I have argued on the opinion page of Foreign Policy Community Indonesia chapter Universitas Gadjah Mada in 2021, Indonesia are in a state of chronic economic dependency on China and this dependency must be reduced to enhance Indonesia’s independence, especially in safeguarding the Indonesian territory. Things, of course, have changed since last year, one of the biggest changes being the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, and I believe my arguments must be updated. Still, the relevant evidence supports my argument that there must be a diminution of Indonesian dependency on China.

Indonesia-China Economic Relationship: Interdependence or Dependence?       

Firstly, one needs to remember that the current economic relationship is not of interdependence, but of dependence, meaning that Indonesia depends on China for its economic relations while the vice-versa is not necessarily true. According to the data published by the Observatory of Economic Complexity, China is the destination of nearly 30% of Indonesian exports while it is the origin of 18% of Indonesian imports in 2020. However, in the same year, Indonesia is the destination for only 1,54% of Chinese exports while it is the origin of only 2,1% of Chinese imports. Economic interdependence, by its very definition, means that two parties must be more or less equally dependent on one another. Seeing the data above, it is clear that Indonesia depends heavily on China for its trade while the vice-versa is not the case.

However, one could argue that Indonesia has many raw materials that China needs, such as nickel ore, that are necessary to fuel China’s growth and technological innovations. Again, the data does not corroborate this claim. Indonesia is the source of only 7,74% of China’s nickel ore, material that is heavily important in making electric cars and is touted by many Indonesian experts, politicians, and media as Indonesia’s leverage on world affairs. Furthermore, given that Indonesia exports nearly 90% of its nickel ore to China in 2020, one must ask the question whether China is dependent on Indonesia for its nickel ore or is it Indonesia that depends on China for nickel ore exports.

In addition, Indonesia is also fairly dependent on China for its foreign investment. According to the Investment Coordination Board of Indonesia, China is now the third-biggest foreign investor in Indonesia, behind Japan and Singapore. Admittedly, the Indonesian dependence on Chinese investment is not as chronic as Indonesia’s trade relationship with China. Still, there are some possibilities that the number of Chinese investments in Indonesia could be higher as some Chinese investment to Southeast Asia (including Indonesia) are routed through Singapore, resulting in a statistical distortion. However, Indonesia’s dependence on Chinese investment could grow as Indonesia and China has signed numerous investment development cooperation deals under the umbrella of the Belt and Road Initiative or other bilateral investment deals.

What is the Problem?   

One might ask why one must worry about Indonesia’s economic dependence on China? One answer is heavily relevant: China increasingly does not have hesitation to use its economic relations with other countries as a political economic weapon to achieve China’s objectives, often at the expense of its economic partner. In 2017, for example, when the South Korean government agreed to install the US-made Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system to defend South Korea against North Korean missiles, China retaliated by embargoing outgoing Chinese tourists to South Korea as China believed that the THAAD can theoretically be used to target Chinese missiles, thus mollifying Chinese nuclear second strike capability. More recently and blatantly, China put in place an unofficial embargo on Australian exports to China after the Australian government called for an investigation into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic. Kishore Mahbubani succinctly describes the effects of Australian economic dependence on China:

Australia is the most vulnerable [among the countries of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue]. Its economy is highly dependent on China. Australians have been proud of their remarkable three decades of recession-free growth. That happened only because Australia became, functionally, an economic province of China: In 2018–2019, 33% of its exports went to China, whereas only 5 percent went to the United States.

This is why it was unwise for Australia to slap China in the face publicly by calling for an international inquiry on China and Covid-19. It would have been wiser and more prudent to make such a call privately. Now Australia has dug itself into a hole. All of Asia is watching intently to see who will blink in the current Australia-China standoff. In many ways, the outcome is pre-determined. If Beijing blinks, other countries may follow Australia in humiliating China. Hence, effectively, Australia has blocked it into a corner.

And there are several points of friction in the Indonesia-China relationship that can lead China to wield its political economic weapon against Indonesia. The most notable one is the Indonesia and China dispute on the waters around the Natuna Islands. In this case, Indonesia’s legal Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) claim overlapped with the Chinese illegally-claimed nine-dash line. While Indonesia and China have successfully managed their dispute for years, China has gotten more and more brazen in recent years in upholding its illegal claim. In an unprecedented move, Reuters reported in December 2021 that China had sent a letter requesting that Indonesia withhold its oil and gas drillings in the Indonesia’s EEZ region that overlapped with China’s nine-dash line. Furthermore, in another unprecedented move, China protested Indonesia’s military exercises with the United States Army, even though the exercises took place primarily on land and far away from the South China Sea. Thus, it is increasingly clear that China is ever more willing to protest activities that are within the boundaries of Indonesia’s sovereignty. It is fortunate that China does not employ its extensive political economic leverage against Indonesia. However, given the increasing willingness to use its political economic relations as a weapon, it is not an irrational thought that China can one day impose an embargo on Indonesian exports to China unless Indonesia acquiesce to Chinese demands in the South China Sea or on other areas.

In spite of this, one can argue that the increasing Indonesia-China trade is essential for the maintenance of peace between Indonesia and China. In this iteration, if there is a high level of economic interdependence between Indonesia and China, then the parties involved will rethink the hostilities in fear of losing its economic benefits. There are some pitfalls with this argument. As I have explained previously, the economic relationship between Indonesia and China is not of interdependence, but of dependence. Secondly, even if Indonesia and China have economic interdependence, “high levels of economic interdependence do not make war impossible and thus do not free states from having to worry about what powerful rivals might do to upset the balance of power” as Stephen Walt argued in The Hell of Good Intentions: American Foreign Policy Elite and the Decline of US Primacy. This is because states will always pick political and security goals first over prosperity and economic goals. Indeed, the decades leading up to the First World War was widely considered as the belle époque of globalization, with trade and immigration moving at an extremely high level. In recent years, the high amount of Ukraine-Russia trade does not prevent the latter from invading the former in 2022 and 2014.

Logically speaking, if China is really sincere in upholding its economic relationship with Indonesia, then China should have abandoned its illegal claims over the South China Sea (at least the part where its claims overlapped with Indonesia) and not do provocative acts such as requesting that Indonesia suspend its gas and oil drillings in Indonesian EEZ. These moves would be logical as these frictions could escalate and destroy the hard-won Indonesia-China economic relations. Instead, evidence points to the contrary: China’s diplomatic doublespeak means that China continues to employ highfalutin rhetoric on trade and economic relations with Indonesia while doing political, military, and pseudo-military moves that can damage those trade relationship. Therefore, any Indonesian policymaker and expert must ask an inconvenient question: Is China really sincere in upholding its good relationship with Indonesia?

What Must be Done?

Therefore, what must be done to lessen Indonesia’s economic dependence on China? The word count imposes a barrier to explaining each solution in detail. However, several solutions can be glossed over. One solution is to impose a barrier to the export of Indonesian raw materials. This will allow Indonesia to hit four birds with one stone: break away from the chain of dependency of manufactured goods imports and become more independent, create Indonesian manufacturing jobs, invigorating Indonesian domestic industry, and inviting more foreign investment to build manufacturing plants in Indonesia. The Indonesian government’s ban on exporting raw nickel ore is a step in the right direction. This can set an example to break Indonesia’s dependency on foreign countries, with the Indonesian President Joko Widodo declaring in December 2021 that the government will continue to impose barriers in the export of other raw materials, including bauxite. Thus, the production plants must be built physically in Indonesia and that there must be a technology transfer mechanism so that Indonesia can operate and develop the industries independently in the future.

Secondly, Indonesia can also search for alternative market in ASEAN by utilizing the benefits enshrined in the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) rules. One might argue that ASEAN does not provide the necessary materials to Indonesia compared to China. Yet, it is important to note that many companies are now adopting the China+1 strategy to lessen their dependence on the Chinese economy and industry by opening up factories in other countries, most notably in Thailand and Vietnam. Indonesia will be able to utilize the tariff reduction that are signified in the AFTA rules if Indonesia source its manufacturing goods imports from ASEAN emerging industrialized countries. While this may seem inefficient and redundant, this step is extremely important to hedge the political risks and prepare for the possibility that China could use its economic relationship with Indonesia as a political economic weapon. If China bans a certain material from being exported to Indonesia, at the very least Indonesian industry would not be 100% crippled as they can still depend on imports from ASEAN countries. ASEAN countries can also be seen as a market potential for Indonesian exports to lessen Indonesia’s dependence on the China market, with an economic gravity model research identifying that Laos, Malaysia, Brunei Darussalam, and Thailand still have market potentials that can be exploited by Indonesian companies.

Other solution that Indonesia can implement is to take advantage of the recently-implemented Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). The RCEP is way bigger and more ambitious compared to the AFTA, with the ASEAN countries, Japan, South Korea, China, Australia, and New Zealand being members of the RCEP. Even though the RCEP includes China, it also includes other more developed economies such as Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand. As such, under the umbrella of the RCEP, Indonesia can increase its exports to these countries as the tariff and non-tariff barriers have been dropped significantly. Furthermore, Indonesia can also attract more high technology investment from Japan, New Zealand, Australia, and South Korea as the RCEP provides the framework for a more “enabling investment environment in the region.” This step is also necessary to lessen Indonesia’s dependence on Chinese investment.

Finally, it is vital that the government reduce its dependence on Chinese investment by looking for other sources of investment, such as Indian, Russian, Saudi Arabian. Emirati, Qatari, or even Turkish investments, as well as looking for opportunities in the G7-made Build Back Better World Initiative and also investment opportunities under the umbrella of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue. However, one could argue that gaining investment from the West is quite difficult as Indonesia must fulfil certain anti-corruption, human rights, and environmental standards. Still, these standards are worthy goals to pursue as stringent anti-corruption, human rights, and environmental standards will benefit the Indonesian people, especially those living near the construction site, in the long run. In addition, to ensure that the investment generates a reasonable return to make the project seem attractive to Western investors, Indonesia must do well to assess the usefulness and the projection of the benefit that the project will bring. Infrastructure project mishaps, such as the Kertajati International Airport in West Java, must be averted and white elephant infrastructure projects must be avoided.

               To conclude, while Indonesia and China hailed its achievement in diplomatic relation, one must also see the growing signs of Indonesian economic dependence on China. This is a big problem as China continues to use its economic relationship with other countries as a political economic weapon to achieve Chinese goals, often at the expense of its partner. Thus, it is important for Indonesia to be able to withstand this coercion by diversifying its economic relations. The solution that can be implemented by Indonesia includes restricting the export of raw materials, utilizing the ASEAN Free Trade Area, and taking advantage of the RCEP. The solutions offered are by no means exhaustive. However, it provides several ideas into what Indonesia can do to lessen its economic dependence on China so that Indonesia can remain independent in upholding its national security, sovereignty, and territorial integrity.

S.I.P (Political Science Bachelor) Candidate Department of International Relations, Faculty of Social and Political Science, Universitas Gadjah Mada

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Southeast Asia

Bali governor puts Indonesia on the spot

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Bali Governor Wayan Koster. Photo: Bali Provincial Government

A refusal by the governor of Hindu-majority Bali to host an Israeli soccer team at this May’s FIFA Under-20 World Cup puts the Indonesian government, football association, and foremost Muslim civil society movement on the spot.

Wayan Koster’s refusal threatens to lead FIFA to deprive Indonesia of its hosting rights, which oblige it to allow national teams to compete irrespective of whether countries recognise one another.

The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) stripped Malaysia of its right to host the 2019 World Para Swimming Championship because it refused to allow Israel to participate.

“We request the Minister adopt a policy of banning the Israeli team from competing in Bali. We, the provincial government of Bali, declare that we reject the participation of the Israel team to compete in Bali,” Mr. Koster wrote in a March 14 letter to the youth and sports ministry a day after the minister resigned because he was elected deputy chairman of the Indonesian Football Association.

Indonesia has refused to establish diplomatic relations with Israel as long as it fails to resolve its conflict with the Palestinians.

The rise of a far-right, ultra-nationalist, and religiously ultra-conservative Israeli government has further dampened already dim hopes that the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country and democracy would follow the United Arab Emirates and other Arab states in recognising Israel soon.

This week, the Indonesian foreign ministry condemned Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotric’s denial of Palestinian existence. “Indonesia continues to consistently support the Palestinian people’s struggle,” the ministry said.

Earlier, ministry spokesman Teuku Faizasyah asserted that Israeli participation in the FIFA tournament would “not weaken Indonesia’s consistent position on Palestine.”

If world soccer body FIFA deprived it of its hosting rights, Indonesia would suffer a setback in positioning itself as a Southeast Asian sports powerhouse. In addition, Indonesia would lose its spot in the championship.

Indonesia qualified for this year’s tournament as the host rather than because of its performance in qualification matches.

Mr. Koster’s refusal was celebrated by Muslim oragnisations, including the Indonesian Ulama Council (MUI), which groups the country’s top clerics, and Muhamadiyya, the country’s second-largest civil society movement with tens of millions of followers. The groups this week protested Israeli participation in the tournament.

The refusal and the protest shine a spotlight not only on pro-Palestinian sentiment in Indonesia but also the at times blurred distinction between legitimate criticism of Israel and anti-Jewish sentiment.

To be sure, the slogans of the protest were anti-Israel, not anti-Jewish.

Even so, Israel has sought to spin crossovers between the two to discredit all criticism as anti-Semitism.

The controversy over Israeli participation in the Bali tournament also highlights the outreach to Jews and other faith groups by Indonesia’s Nahdlatul Ulama, the world’s largest and most moderate civil society movement.

Nahdlatul Ulama has been a driving force in reforming Islamic law to rid it of supremacist concepts. Some 20,000 Nahdlatul Ulama Islamic scholars in 2019 replaced the notion of the kafir or infidel with that of a citizen.

In addition to tackling problematic concepts in Islamic law, Nahdaltul Ulama has been at the forefront of efforts to take inter-faith dialogue beyond hollow, feel-good, lovey-dovey declarations by putting historical grievances, truth-telling, and the troubled histories of Islam and other faiths on the agenda.

Nevertheless, Aan Anshori, a young Nahdlatul Ulama religious scholar, cautions that antipathy in Indonesia toward Jews is “culturally deep-seated.”

“The key to turning this around is to instill the importance for coexistence between Islam and other faiths today,” Mr. Anshori said.

Last year a poll showed that 51 per cent of Indonesian Muslims had serious misgivings about having Jewish neighbors, 57 percent opposed allowing Jews to teach in public schools, and 61 per cent objected to Jews becoming government officials.

Also last year, the alliance of Islamic scholars on the Javan island of Madura, a region with a history of intolerance, and a conservative cleric who identifies himself as a Nahdlatul Ulama associate, protested against the participation of an Argentinian rabbi, known for her advocacy of human rights, in a summit of religious leaders organised by the group under the auspices of Indonesian President Joko Widodo.

“I am an NU (Nahdlatul Ulama) member, rejecting (the leadership’s) efforts to bring the Jewish rabbi, Silvina Chemen, to Indonesia… The infidels from the children of Israel have been cursed through the words of Prophet Dawud (David) and Prophet Isa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary),” said Luthfi Bashori Alwi.

A Sunni Muslim mob armed with machetes and sickles attacked and burnt a Shiite-majority village in Madura in 2012, killing a 45-year-old woman and seriously injuring several others.

Nahdlatul Ulama secretary general Yahya Cholil Staquf set the tone for his leadership by addressing, shortly after his election in January 2022, the Simon Wiesenthal Center on Holocaust Remembrance Day as well as the Palestinian embassy in Jakarta at about the same time.

Calling for compassion, Mr. Staquf referred only obliquely in his Wiesenthal Center speech to the Palestinians and other repressed groups.

He noted that “Holocaust remembrance serves as a memorial and vivid reminder of the cruelty, violence, and suffering that so many human beings — acting in the name of their ‘group identity,’ whether ethnic, racial, religious, or political — have, for thousands of years, inflicted upon others. This pattern of malignant behavior continues to threaten humanity, and civilization itself, to the present day.”

Mr. Staquf was more explicit in his speech at the Palestinian embassy.

“If the people of the world fail to ensure a better, more noble future for Palestinians, humanity will have failed in its collective responsibility to ensure a better future for everyone, by fostering the emergence of a global civilization,” Mr. Staquf said.

Mr. Staquf is one of two Nahdlatul Ulama leaders, alongside former Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid, to visit Israel. Mr. Wahid travelled when he was head of Nahdlatul Ulama rather than when he was head of state.

Discussing his own experience Ezra Abraham, a 29-year-old Indonesian Jew, suggests that engagement with others as well as frank and honest dialogue as pursued by Mr. Staquf produces results.

“Part of the problem (in Indonesia) is that the decades-long invisibility of the Jewish people has made us into the convenient, never-seen bogeyman,.. At past interfaith events, (Indonesian) Muslim participants were initially uncomfortable when I told them I was Jewish. But by the end of our frank discussions, most would’ve modified their stance,” Mr, Abraham said.

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Southeast Asia

Indonesia: Climate Change Challenges

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Indonesia is a nation that faces the threat of drowning land due to the impact of global warming. Rising sea levels, caused by the warming of the Earth’s atmosphere, are leading to the submergence of low-lying areas in the country, particularly in coastal regions. The effects of this problem are not limited to the loss of land, but also include the displacement of populations, environmental degradation, and the potential exacerbation of social, economic, and political issues.

The impact of rising sea levels on Indonesia’s archipelagic status is a real concern as many of its outermost islands and basepoints could potentially be submerged in the future. As an archipelagic state, Indonesia benefits greatly from UNCLOS, which permits Indonesia to claim sovereignty over all of the waters between its islands. If sea levels rise, the basepoints used for drawing archipelagic baselines might be partly or fully covered by water, affecting the measurement of the allowable distance between all the basepoints. In a worst-case scenario, where the basepoints are completely underwater, Indonesia may have to find alternative basepoints or rebuild them. Rising sea levels could cause total territorial loss, including the loss of baselines and maritime zones measured from them.

To protect its archipelagic status, Indonesia needs to assess the impact of sea level rise on the outermost points of its islands and drying reefs of its archipelago. It should also record the heights above sea level of these basepoints, and how much they will be impacted by sea level rises. Indonesia could consider declaring its archipelagic baselines as final once defined and declared notwithstanding sea level rise. Additionally, Indonesia and other Southeast Asian countries threatened by rising sea levels could adopt a regional declaration recognizing the stability of their baselines and secure their maritime entitlements. As chairs of ASEAN this year, Indonesia could take this opportunity to take collective action to respond to rising sea levels.

The issue of environmental migrants is closely tied to this problem. Environmental migrants are individuals or groups of people who are forced to migrate from their homes or communities due to environmental factors, including sea-level rise, drought, desertification, and deforestation. In the case of Indonesia, many people are likely to be displaced by the submergence of coastal areas, which can lead to a variety of challenges, including housing insecurity, food insecurity, and economic instability.

In the face of these challenges, it is crucial that effective protection of fundamental human rights is prioritized. This includes ensuring that the rights of environmental migrants are protected, including the right to adequate housing, food, and healthcare, as well as the right to seek asylum and protection from persecution. Governments must also take steps to address the root causes of environmental migration, such as by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and promoting sustainable development.

Existing policies and international frameworks, such as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Agreement, provide a basis for action on this issue. However, it is essential that governments and other stakeholders take concrete steps to implement these policies effectively, and that the voices of affected communities are heard in the decision-making process. This requires a commitment to collaboration, transparency, and accountability at all levels of governance, as well as a recognition of the urgent need to address the threat of climate change and its impact on vulnerable populations.

International efforts, such as the International Organization for Migration’s support for a research project on climate and migration in Indonesia, and the World Bank’s South Asia Water Initiative and Climate Adaptation and Resilience for South Asia project, are encouraging but insufficient. Therefore, three policy recommendations to reduce the risk of climate-induced migration in South Asia are offered:

-Promote more livelihood opportunities in non-agricultural sectors to reduce the vulnerability of agriculture workers to climate-driven displacement.

-Empower non-federal authorities to better tackle climate-induced displacement risks, particularly at the local level.

-Host and sponsor dialogues and other exchanges to generate greater regional cooperation so that South Asian states can jointly combat the shared and transnational threats of climate change and climate-induced displacement.

The threat of drowning land in Indonesia due to global warming highlights the urgent need for action on the issue of environmental migration and the protection of fundamental human rights. Governments and other stakeholders must work together to address the root causes of this problem and to provide effective support and protection to affected communities.

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Southeast Asia

Indonesia’s Leadership in ASEAN 2023: Young Generation as Game Changers in Echoing Regional Peace Narratives

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‘ASEAN Matters: Epicentrum of Growth’ was announced by President Joko Widodo as the theme for the one-year relay of Indonesia’s leadership in ASEAN at the ASEAN Summit agenda on 13 November 2022 in Cambodia. As can be seen, Indonesia has received a lot of trusts and a progressive image from the international order, as evidenced by its success at the G20 multilateral economic cooperation forum in 2022, and this year Indonesia is preparing to become the leader of the regional organization agenda of The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) (Setkab, 2022). Indonesia openly gets many opportunities to introduce its identity to be more vocal regionally and multilaterally, one of which is introducing basic Indonesian principles such as Pancasila and Bhinneka Tunggal Ika (different but still one), which are compact or following the principles of international organizations which Indonesia chairs. As a reflection, ASEAN is indeed thick with diversity, so solidarity is one of the principles upheld. Archipelagically, Indonesia is a country composed of tracks of reconciliation with differences. So, in terms of harmonizing the differences that occur, Indonesia has vital ammunition for that.

The effort and enthusiasm of innovative and creative youth in various fields is a potent ammunition from Indonesia. According to the Central Statistics Agency (BPS), in 2021, the youth in Indonesia will be around 64.92 million people, or around 23.90% of Indonesia’s total population (Mahdi, 2021). What about the number of youths within the scope of ASEAN? ASEAN estimates that the total population of the younger generation will be around 220 million in 2038, which has yet to be accumulated with the estimated calculation of Timor Leste’s inclusion as the 11th member of ASEAN (CNN, 2022). So, the total population explosion must be utilized as the epicenter of progressive growth for all ASEAN countries. Referring to article 32 of the ASEAN charter, ASEAN leaders have three main tasks: spokesperson, chief executive, and tabling new initiatives. Also, in carrying out this leadership, the ASEAN chairperson must pay attention to several things: actively advancing and enhancing the interests of ASEAN members, guaranteeing ASEAN centrality, representing ASEAN, ensuring an adequate response, and carrying out its duties, principles, and functions to the fullest (ASEAN, 2008).           There are three main pillars in the topic of ASEAN discussion; the first is the economic sector which is discussed in the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), politics in the ASEAN Political-Security Community (APSC), and socio-culture in the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC). A topic that is interesting to young people and has a variety of uniqueness due to the diversity of ASEAN is ASCC-based so socio-cultural terminology will be the main focus of writing. The heart of ASCC is to ensure the quality of life (QOL); quality of life of the ASEAN people through cooperative activities with the concept of being people-oriented, people-centered, environmentally friendly, and promoting sustainable development (ASEAN, 2016). Therefore, when Indonesia chaired ASEAN, he had a significant role in maintaining regional and domestic stability. When the quality of life and regional stability are met, the situation is safe and free from threats, and the obstacles to achieving ASEAN’s vision can be reduced in tension. Regarding peace, the young generation of ASEAN, especially in Indonesia, must be introduced and well-educated as a game-changer to create peace in the Southeast Asian region. So, this article simultaneously proves the question, how can Indonesian youth be actively involved in ​​regional peace through the momentum of Indonesia’s chairmanship in ASEAN in 2023?

               Looking back on youth involvement in ASEAN, for the first time in 2022, ASEAN held a Youth Dialogue under the chairmanship of Cambodia in ASEAN in 2022. This Youth Dialogue is being held jointly with the Republic of Korea (ROK) and resulted in policy recommendations as a form of commitment from the younger generation in preparing for the industrial revolution 4.0 in the era of recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic (ASEAN, 2022). In other forums still under ASEAN’s attention, the younger generation has only made and submitted policy recommendations that have yet to be contributively and actively involved in the ASEAN process. Indicators or parameters of the younger generation’s influence in ASEAN regional forums still need to be determined because the younger generation still plays a passive role in ASEAN. On the other hand, many youth-based organizations, forums, communities, and start-ups in Indonesia exist. Until now, there are 2,346 start-ups in Indonesia, making Indonesia the first-ranked country with the most significant number of start-ups beating Singapore in second (Annur, 2022). Start-ups indicate the development of the young generation’s innovation and are a model and proof that Indonesia’s young generation already has the ammunition to put a ‘sense of influence’ among Southeast Asia’s younger generation. Indonesia’s momentum as chair of ASEAN in 2023 should further facilitate and provide opportunities for Indonesia’s young generation to become the epicenter of creation and innovation for the younger generation in the Southeast Asian region. The government must open up space for collaboration and cooperation between the younger generation of Indonesia and other young people in the ASEAN region so that the benefits generated are not only for the younger generation who will continue ASEAN in the future.

Citing the vital role of an ASEAN chairman, Indonesia has full power, for example, in recognizing the existence of a strategic and applicable youth regional forum according to the needs of the younger generation, for example, in cybercrime case studies. Events regarding cyber warfare and its derivatives are exciting and essential for the younger generation who live in an era of digital transformation where war, political weapons, the economy, and various aspects that can weaken national security are carried out through cyberspace. The point of cyber security at the ASEAN level must be a shared concern and mission. This mission can be focused on the younger generation, firstly through policy recommendations, secondly also through meetings or gatherings under the pillars of ASEAN in which the younger generation has not been a representative so far to listen to and interpret debates which also ultimately have an impact on their welfare, the younger generation can become observers in meetings involving high-ranking state officials, even though at the closing ceremony or summit, in the end, the younger generation can feel the atmosphere of meetings in ASEAN. In another form of involvement, the younger generation in Southeast Asia should have a common interest or shared goals, especially in viewing the centrality of ASEAN, and in this case, shared goals are formulated through meetings at the youth level which will ultimately position ASEAN to have a youth-way. The existence of multilateral forums such as dialogues and conferences will further increase awareness and a sense of solidarity with each other, so that common interests arise. The younger generation must promote, innovate, and integrate ASEAN in the focus of any issues that ASEAN will implement in the ASEAN leadership under Indonesia as its chairperson in 2023.

This analogy can describe the relationship of involvement and interrelationship between peace, the younger generation, and Indonesia’s leadership. Peace is a goal to be achieved, while the younger generation is a tool (game-changer) in achieving this goal, and Indonesia’s chairmanship of ASEAN in 2023 is the time or momentum. Through the younger generation, the concept of peace regarding fairness in opinion and innovation, the right to be protected from threats, and the right to be free to make choices these values ​​will be reflected when the younger generation knows their position and what is the urgency and justification for their existence in this context. Indonesia’s leadership in several forums has been left from regional to multilateral. The low failure rate in these leadership positions indicates that peace as a form of embodiment of ASEAN’s vision and solidarity in its journey is possible, primarily through the younger generation’s involvement. Harmonization between the values ​​upheld in each country in ASEAN, under the umbrella of ASEAN centrality, is expected not to become an obstacle to the unity of these ASEAN countries. Because the main actors are the younger generation, and the younger generation tends to have a character that likes to work together and produce new ideas exclusive to their field, the tendency to distort one another is rated low. Moreover, ASEAN is the driving force for the movement of the younger generation. A package that complements and fulfills one another.

The game-changer idiom construction in the title refers to the player context, which can bring about change very effectively. When the younger generation already has a portion of involvement, then the younger generation should make the most of this position. The more optimal the role of the younger generation, the more ASCC points will be achieved and creating ASEAN as the epicenter of growth, meaning that the full significance of change is approaching the final goal, then the young generation’s point as a game-changer will be realized. In the track record of making peace with differences, the young generation sparks significant peace (volcanically) in voicing an issue. It means that Indonesia’s ammunition through the younger generation as a game-changer is no longer wishful thinking, but a reality based on factual evidence.

ASEAN “We Care, We Prepare, We Prosper” this slogan reminds us to be ready for various opportunities and challenges and ignites the spirit of achieving shared prosperity. Indonesia’s chairmanship in ASEAN is one of the venues for strengthening Indonesian identity globally; Indonesia can realize the noble values ​​of Pancasila, which are not rigid but adapt to the urgency of ASEAN in the next year. By involving the younger generation in a comprehensive and participatory manner, there is a strategic relationship between Indonesia’s leadership as momentum, the younger generation as a game-changer or tool, and peace that is trying to be vocalized and echoed because ASEAN matters. In the end, after the common goals are achieved, mutual benefits can be added value for Indonesia and ASEAN itself.

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