Peer-reviewed (refereed)


2018. “Indonesia” in Asia’s Quest for Balance: China’s Rise and Balancing in the Indo-Pacific, ed. Jeff Smith. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, pp. 67-81


The Non-Aligned philosophy is so deeply ingrained in Indonesia's foreign policy thinking that the country has eschewed formal alliances altogether. Even efforts to develop security partnerships short of alliances, especially with major powers like the United States and China, are closely scrutinized and can quickly generate domestic political oppositions for any administration in Jakarta. These broad contours of Indonesia's foreign policy help us better locate Indonesia's relationship with China within its broader political and historical contexts.

Book available here for purchase.


2018. "Drifting Towards Dynamic Equilibrium: Indonesia's South China Sea Policy Under Yudhoyono", in Aspirations with Limitations: Indonesia's Foreign Affairs under Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, ed. Ulla Fionna, Siwage Dharma Negara, Deasy Simandjuntak. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, pp. 153-175


This chapter examines Indonesia's South China Sea policy under President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. For much of his administration (2004-14), Indonesia held on to three inter-related polic y concepts: non-claimant, honest broker, and confidence-builder. This chapter explores the broader strategic contexts underpinning these concepts and consider how Yudhoyono followed the footsteps of his predecessors in responding to the developments in the South China Sea.

Book available here for purchase (incl. chapter PDFs)


2018. "Abandoned at Sea: The Tribunal Ruling and Indonesia's Missing Archipelagic Foreign Policy", Asian Politics & Policy, Vol. 10, No. 2: pp. 300-321 (with Ristian Atriandi Supriyanto)


Indonesia's response to the 2016 UNCLOS tribunal ruling was underwhelming, even as a nonclaimant in the South China Sea disputes. Given its maritime geography and interests, the response is symptomatic of the country's underdevelopment of an “archipelagic foreign policy”—one where the entire foreign policy system, from its bureaucracy, doctrine, and strategy, should be geared to secure and defend its external maritime interests. This article further argues that the authoritarian New Order regime (1966–1998) repressed the development of an archipelagic foreign policy in two ways: (1) the army‐dominated foreign policy establishment deprioritized external maritime interests and (2) the infusion of the National Resilience (Ketahanan Nasional) concept into the “Archipelagic Outlook” (Wawasan Nusantara) doctrine as a regime maintenance tool further “domesticated” what could have been a geopolitical outlook. These authoritarian legacies put Indonesia's foreign policy on a path‐dependent trajectory that even President Joko Widodo's Global Maritime Fulcrum could not break.


2017. "Pragmatic Equidistance: How Indonesia Manages its Great Power Relations", in China, the United States, and the Future of Southeast Asia, ed. David Denoon. New York, NY: New York University Press, pp. 113-135


This chapter describes the rationale and nature of Indonesia’s foreign policy vis-à-vis the United States and China. It places Indonesia’s foreign policy pertaining to these two countries within the broader context of Jakarta’s overall management of its great power relations. I argue that Indonesia’s approach can be described as one of ‘pragmatic equidistance’. As an approach to great power management, pragmatic equidistance captures the idea of fully engaging one great power in various forms of cooperation — from economic to defense matters — while simultaneously maintaining both strategic autonomy and keeping equal balance with other great powers.

The book has been reviewed by Contemporary Southeast Asia and China Report.


2016. "The Domestic Politics of Indonesia's Approach to the Tribunal Ruling and the South China Sea", Contemporary Southeast Asia, 38 (3): pp. 382-388


This article argues that Indonesia’s inconsistency should be placed within the deeper and broader historical ambivalence embedded in the bilateral relationship with China and in Indonesia’s awkward non-claimant position, as well as the country’s chaotic domestic maritime security governance. These permissive (or antecedent) conditions, however, are necessary but insufficient to explain Indonesia’s lukewarm response to the ruling. This article argues that President Jokowi’s lack of personal interest and grasp of foreign policy provides the more proximate (or triggering) condition behind the response. Specifically, his aloofness has led to deteriorating bureaucratic politics and the growing influence of a small number of advisers outside of the foreign ministry — a “foreign policy oligarchy” if you will — in the formulation of the country’s China policy.


2011. “Indonesia’s Rising Regional and Global Profile: Does Size Really Matter?“, Contemporary Southeast Asia 33 (2): pp. 157 – 182


This paper seeks to challenge the view that Indonesia’s geographical and population size account for its rising regional and global profile. Instead, it makes three inter-related arguments. First, the manifestations of Indonesia’s foreign policy and global profile have always been based on its ability to harness the country’s normative and moral voice. Second, while democratization since 1998 has allowed Indonesia to restore its reputation in world affairs and provided it with a new source of “soft power”, it has also complicated foreign policy-making. Third, Indonesia’s large geographical size and population have been a source of persistent internal security threats, and because the government has been unable to meet national defence requirements, the growth in its defence diplomacy activities reflect the country’s continuing strategic weakness rather than its strength

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2011. “Variations on a Theme: Dimensions of Ambivalence in Indonesia-China Relations,” Harvard Asia Quarterly 13 (1): pp. 24-31


Is Indonesia finally joining the Chinese bandwagon? Upon taking a closer look at the evolution in the bilateral relations, however, the answer to this question is not so straightforward. Indeed, the picture of Indonesia’s policy towards China is not a simple question of hedging, balancing, band-wagoning, or some variation of the three — though many analyses of Southeast Asian responses to China’s rise focus on these specific strategies. This paper argues instead that, when located within the broader evolution of Indonesia-China relations, Jakarta’s policy towards China is that of persistent ambivalence and ambiguity. This paper aims to explain the ambivalence in Indonesia–China relations by assessing its four main dimensions: domestic politics, economics, strategic and security, and regional and foreign policy. These dimensions of ambivalence largely originate from deep-rooted sentiments and from the perceptions of the Indonesian public and elite, which are in turn shaped by a long history of mutual interaction, the place of ethnic Chinese-Indonesians in Indonesian society, as well as by China’s geographic proximity.


2011. “The Enduring Strategic Trinity: Explaining Indonesia’s Geopolitical Architecture,” Journal of the Indian Ocean Region 7 (1): pp. 95-116


This paper seeks to describe and assess the geopolitical architecture of Indonesia as the largest archipelagic state in the world. It makes two main inter-related arguments. First, Indonesia’s geographical traits suggest that it could be both a source of weakness and vulnerability as much as it brings enormous potential for political, economic, and even military power. Second, the historical origins and conceptual foundations of ‘geopolitics’ as a policy theme suggest that Indonesia’s geopolitical architecture is based on three building blocks  the ‘strategic trinity’: geostrategy (the military and security dimensions), geoeconomics (the resource and economic dimensions), and geopolitics (the social and political dimensions). While these arguments are not novel in themselves, this paper represents among the first attempts to systematically analyse and assess Indonesia’s geographical traits and how they shape the country’s strategic thinking, foreign policy, and national security system. The paper will also consider how Indonesia’s geopolitical architecture could help explain the country’s resurgent interest in the Indian Ocean Region in recent years.