JAKARTA - Indonesia plays a strategic role in ensuring ASEAN unity with emphasis on its status as a global middle power, said Indonesian Institute of Sciences researcher Dr Dewi Fortuna Anwar.

In an article entitled “Indonesia and the ASEAN outlook on the Indo-Pacific”, published in the January 2020 edition of the International Affairs journal, Dr Anwar assesses that Indonesia’s pivotal position within the context of ASEAN is further emphasised in the ASEAN outlook on the Indo-Pacific, which it lobbied and was later adopted by ASEAN leaders at the 34th ASEAN Summit in June 2019.

Quoting Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi, Dr Anwar asserts that the Indonesian government’s role in conceptualising the ASEAN outlook on the Indo-Pacific is significant for three reasons. “First, it cements Indonesia's unofficial leadership in ASEAN and its status as a global middle power. Second, it entrenches ASEAN centrality, placing the association in the driver's seat in managing regional security and economic challenges,” she writes.

“Third, it could provide a cogent Indo-Pacific partnership strategy to offset Great Power politics, by offering a view that is independent of China, the United States and other stakeholders, such as Australia, India and Japan.”

In addition, as President Joko Widodo eyes to widen Indonesia’s geostrategic canvas from Asia-Pacific to the Indo-Pacific, Indonesia is faced with numerous challenges such as the US-China rivalry and the emergence of various Indo-Pacific initiatives from other countries. As such, according to Dr Anwar, Indonesia aims to use its prominent status to urge ASEAN to maintain its centrality. (MS)