Nevertheless, the United States’ low-level engagement in wider East Asian affairs was not perceived favorably by ASEAN in general or Indonesia in particular, since it opened the way for the region to come under the sway of one regional hegemon.
There was no illusion that ASEAN members and other countries would be able to deal with an increasingly powerful China on equitable terms by themselves.
As the United States begins to shift its focus and resources to Asia, regional states are paying close attention to U. By Dewi Fortuna Anwar February 26, 2013 Analyses of the United States’ rebalancing effort toward Asia (also known as the U. “pivot”) under President Barack Obama have mostly focused on China. While the United States was preoccupied with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and gave scant attention to affairs in the Asia-Pacific region throughout the George W.
Dewi Fortuna Anwar provides an Indonesian perspective on the U. rebalancing strategy in this NBR Commentary, analyzing regional dynamics and describing Indonesia’s expectations and concerns.
Indonesia has prided itself on its “free and active” foreign policy doctrine, signified by its leading role in the Non-Aligned Movement and refusal to side with one power bloc against another.
Within this strategy, Southeast Asia is considered to be a subregion of particular interest. Through a well-conceived charm offensive, which began in the late 1990s when it provided assistance to countries suffering from the Asian financial crisis, China assiduously courted ASEAN and improved bilateral relations with key members.
Indonesia, like other members of ASEAN, strongly believes that the best way to ensure that China’s policy toward the region is friendly is by convincing Beijing that it has a direct strategic interest in Southeast Asian security and prosperity.
At the same time, however, uncertainty about the future remains.
Hence, there is an urgent need for the development of a more robust regional structure in which China’s overwhelming power can be harnessed more peacefully and productively within an East Asian community.
Thus, while trying to integrate China into the evolving regional architecture, Indonesia has opposed the formation of a regional institution in which China’s power would outweigh that of other members.