|Against the backdrop of regional transformation, during President Soesilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) period of office from 2004 – 2014, Indonesian officials have frequently expressed an expectation of a peaceful region through the promotion of a concept called the maintenance of a dynamic equilibrium. The concept was developed in the light of the rise of China, the US’ reengagement and Japan’s transformation, and is a response to the great power and superpower interactions in the region.
This study is thus timely, significant and relevant as well as important in contemporary Indonesia. First, it analyses the impact of regional dynamics on Indonesia, which have been perceived differently and with uncertainty especially by Indonesian elites. Secondly, it provides a study on Indonesia’s foreign relations in pursuit of the country’s search for a dynamic regional equilibrium. In so doing, it sheds light on Indonesia’s foreign policy which, for some scholars, is considered less focused and irrelevant, especially in responding to great powers dynamics in the region.
This thesis uses two main techniques of data collection to explore its main objectives: interviewing and textual / documentary investigation. The data collection was conducted, first, during the SBY Administration (from March to September 2014) and, secondly, during the Jokowi Administration (from June to September 2016). The data collection was primarily through in-depth interviews, which were semi-structured, with more than 50 officials and eminent persons involved in the process of Indonesian foreign policy making. The textual, or documentary, investigation was conducted using both primary and secondary resources. This research is qualitative in nature, but it contains data and statistics to support the analysis. This study sets its time frame into the end of 2016.
The research has two main findings. First, the great powers and superpower dynamics and interactions in the region generate opportunities for and threats to Indonesia’s interests. On the one hand, their presence and interactions enhance Indonesia’s hedging and even-handed policy that provide an opportunity to earn maximal gains and avoid a total loss. On the other, the element of competition between them has the potential to trigger disputes and creates instability in the region. In addition, some elements of opportunities also come along with threatening factors. Secondly, the research finds that Indonesia has displayed an array of efforts conforming to the policy of equilibrium maintenance. Indeed, despite some weaknesses, there has been a degree of maintaining a policy for balancing or even-handed strategies in Indonesia’s foreign relations with the US, China and Japan, as well as in the country’s participation in ASEAN and the Family.
At the end, this research finds that Indonesia’s relations with the superpower and great powers, as well as in ASEAN and the Family, are only a part of Indonesia’s foreign policy practices in the region. Accordingly, the discussion of Indonesia’s foreign policy towards the US, China and Japan in relation to a search for the maintenance of a dynamic equilibrium, is not distinct from that towards other countries in the region. In this respect, promoting a regional dynamic equilibrium is a collaborative effort that requires the support and participation of all states in the region.