Indonesia may see the worst of the pandemic in 2021 and Australia should closely watch how Jakarta’s relationship with Beijing develops. The fate of the hardline Front Pembela Islam may also be decided, which could have a significant impact on the broader community.
The presence of the firebrand cleric in Indonesia will make Canberra uncomfortable as he represents a cultural shift that could further alienate the two countries and complicate any initiatives towards gaining a better understanding of each other.
The bilateral relationship with Indonesia is at the foreground of US foreign policy as the presidential election unfolds. The outcome of the election could sway the US approach to Indonesia and the wider region.
While there was no single significant outcome from the meeting, it nonetheless highlights the growing importance of Indonesia to the United States and pragmatism from Indonesia’s Government in keeping Washington onside.
Implementing practical co-operative projects to assist in dealing with the pandemic could help South Korea realise its goal to be a strategic partner in Southeast Asia.
Building the new capital has been delayed until Indonesia’s economy recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. That, however, could take several years, although the government will still likely push for construction to begin before the end of Jokowi’s term in office.
The discussions are part of an effort by the US to bring together a collective stance against China’s activities in the South China Sea. In the short-term future, however, it is unlikely that Washington will actually become the driving force behind such a coalition.
The timing of Indonesian Defence Minister Prabowo Subianto’s visit to India highlights shared concerns about China. It is becoming more apparent that closer strategic co-operation is increasingly in the interests of both countries.
Through the Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (IA-CEPA), Indonesia looks to benefit most from potentially greater Australian investment in the education sector and the provision of skills training. COVID-19, however, puts significant challenges in the way of achieving those goals.
Indonesia’s defence forces suffer from a lack of modern equipment. The government is currently weighing up options for further upgrades from the United States and Russia.