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This paper examines the Indonesian government’s perspective of the West Papua independence movement and its interests in maintaining sovereign control over the territory, despite growing tensions and escalating violence.

Key points:

  • The coming months will likely see the issue of West Papuan independence reignite due to the expiry of special autonomy laws and independence developments in Bougainville.
  • The potential economic output of West Papua for Indonesia and a lack of international support will continue to work against the independence movement.
  • In the current geopolitical climate, concerns over China’s regional influence will heighten sensitivities surrounding the potential vulnerability of an independent West Papua.
  • While Indonesia may face increased pressure from Pacific Island countries over West Papua, Jakarta can adopt a number of strategies to counter that pressure.
  • For the foreseeable future, the Indonesian government will continue its strategy of exerting military control while promising economic development to suppress calls for independence.
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