One senior politician and member of Indonesia’s parliamentary committee overseeing foreign affairs, defence, and intelligence even told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age in March that Indonesia should not allow the submarines in its archipelagic sea lanes, saying they “cannot be used for activities related to war or preparation of war or non-peaceful activities”.
Experts have pointed out that such a move, if it were taken, would not be in line with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
Amid anxiety among Indonesia’s foreign affairs and defence establishment, though, Widodo himself at least has sounded less alarmed in his most recent public remarks on Australia’s technology sharing pact with the United States and the United Kingdom and about the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or Quad, comprised of Australia, the US, Japan and India.
“We should view the Quad and AUKUS as partners and not competitors … ASEAN’s aim is to make the region a stable and peaceful one,” Widodo told Malaysian news outlet New Straits Times before hosting South-East Asian leaders at the ASEAN summit in Labuan Bajo this month.
The groupings have angered Beijing, which regards them as anti-China, formed squarely to contain its rise.
In her daily statement about Widodo’s activities at the G7, Retno said Widodo’s meeting with Albanese was “discussing the president’s plan of visit to Australia in the near future for the annual leaders meeting”.
The planned visit also comes with the Australian government having signalled it wants to give more weight to its trade and economic relationship with Indonesia.
Albanese took a delegation of top Australian business figures with him to Jakarta and Makassar, the capital of South Sulawesi province, last year. Indonesian government and business leaders have also spoken about the upside of more tie-ups including on electric vehicles, given Indonesia’s rich nickel reserves and Australia’s lithium resources.
As well as Albanese, Widodo met with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky and other world leaders on the sidelines of the G7 summit in Japan.
He used the outing to call for an end to “monopolistic policies” which he said were relics of colonialism holding back developing countries from exporting products other than raw materials.
“Is it fair that a country rich in natural resources like Indonesia is prevented from enjoying the added value of its natural resources? Prevented from processing their natural resources in the country?” he said.
“I hope the G7 countries can become partners in industry downstreaming … it is time to establish a kind of OPEC [Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries] for other products, such as nickel and palm oil.”
With Karuni Rompies