Indonesia has long been a country of systemic importance in Asia. Its large territory and population, high-speed economic growth, and strategic location along Asia’s key maritime axis have ensured it is a central player in all economic and security developments in the region. Yet for much of its history, Indonesia has kept a lower profile in regionalism initiatives than its status and position would imply. Since the reformasi period began in 1998, the top policy priorities of the Indonesian government have been domestic: consolidating democratic transition in the political system, managing complex internal security challenges, and fostering economic transformation through industrialisation and urbanisation. While an active player in the diverse range of ASEAN processes in Southeast Asia, Indonesia has yet to assert itself as a leader in the broader Asian region.
This trajectory is already beginning to change. As democratic institutions consolidate, the country has increasingly acquired the capacity to more actively engage in regionalism initiatives. Consistent and high-speed growth promises to make Indonesia the engine driving economic growth in Asia. At the same time, the very notion of whom and what constitutes Asia is changing, with the older ‘AsiaPacific’ model giving way to a geographically-expanded ‘Indo-Pacific’ concept. Given its strategic position at the fulcrum of the Pacific and Indian Oceans, this ‘Indo-Pacific shift’ means Indonesia is poised become a significant regional power in its own right. How Indonesia exercises this role will have lasting impacts on the economic, security and diplomatic architectures of the region.
This Perth USAsia Centre Special Report examines Indonesia’s role in the evolving Indo-Pacific regional order. Bringing together a mix of leading Australian and Indonesian authors, offers a state-of-the-art analysis of the opportunities and challenges facing Indonesia’s economic, security and diplomatic role in the Indo-Pacific.