Indonesia and China: The Politics of a Troubled Relationship

By Rizal Sukma | Go to book overview

4

Foreign policy debate

The primacy of national security

It has been argued in the last two chapters that despite some evident changes and differences, the New Order's foreign policy, not unlike that of Guided Democracy, continued to reflect the reality of domestic politics. Changes in domestic political structure and priorities were bound to produce a corresponding effect in foreign policy. The destruction of Indonesia's Communist Party (PKI) paved the way for the Indonesian Armed Forces (ABRI) to revise the political order and to institute a new one in which it played the dominant role. Sukarno's radicalism in domestic and foreign policy was quickly replaced with pragmatism. Revolutionary domestic slogans were replaced by calls to create internal stability and promote economic development.

Correspondingly, radical foreign policy themes, such as 'anti-nekolim' (anti neocolonialism and neo-imperialism) and 'Ganyang Malaysia' (crush Malaysia), were replaced by a foreign policy of seeking foreign aid from the West and deterring security threat from communism. Instead of relying on the credo of the revolution, the New Order government sought to legitimise its rule through the pursuit of the twin objectives of internal stability and economic development. The attainment of these objectives, according to the New Order, required unrelenting vigilance against the communist threat, for which the dominant role of ABRI in national political life was significantly necessary. The suspension of diplomatic ties with China in October 1967 matched such a domestic requirement.

After the dust of the internal power struggle in Indonesia had been settled, and mutual condemnation and diplomatic hostility between Indonesia and China had subsided, the relationship between the two countries entered a more temperate phase. As early as the end of 1969, some elements in the Indonesian government, especially within Foreign Ministry (DEPLU) circles, began to raise the possibility of restoring diplomatic relations with China. From the outset, DEPLU had been hesitant to break diplomatic relations with China, but it did so due to popular demands and pressures from ABRI. Therefore, when the situation in Indonesia's domestic politics returned to normalcy, it began to advocate an early restoration of diplomatic relations with China. Such an initiative, however, soon brought DEPLU onto a collision course with ABRI and other anti-communist forces resulting in a protracted debate which lasted almost for two decades.

-73-

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Indonesia and China: The Politics of a Troubled Relationship
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Foreword vii
  • Preface ix
  • Acknowledgements xi
  • Abbreviations xiii
  • 1 - Introduction 1
  • 2 - Indonesia's Foreign Policy and Indonesia-China Diplomatic Relations (1950-1967) 16
  • 3 - The Suspension of Diplomatic Ties 44
  • 4 - Foreign Policy Debate 73
  • 5 - The Functions of Resistance 104
  • 6 - Towards the Restoration of Relations 135
  • 7 - Indonesia's Normalisation Decision and the Role of President Suharto 166
  • 8 - Conclusion 199
  • Bibliography 210
  • Index 220
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