Jayanty Nada Shofa, Jakarta – Presidential hopeful Ganjar Pranowo revealed Tuesday how he planned on navigating the growing US-China rivalry if he wins the upcoming election.
The presidential nominee of the ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) also wants Indonesia to work with any strategic partner, while saying that it would be impossible for Jakarta to rely on investment from one country alone or in this case, China.
Indonesia is only three months into its presidential election in February. As the US-China tension grows, so does the question of who would the candidates pick: Washington or Beijing. Meanwhile, the mammoth Chinese investment in Indonesia has led to assumptions that Jakarta favors having Beijing as its business partner. Ganjar said he intends to dispel rumors of Indonesia favoring China.
"Someone asked me whether Indonesia would only partner with China if I became the president. Of course not," Ganjar said at a foreign policy forum in Jakarta on Tuesday.
"Throughout our history, there are other countries who have worked with us. When we invited other economies to work with us, it was not China who ranked first place [as the top foreign investor]," Ganjar said.
Ganjar also plans to stick to Indonesia's current "free and active foreign policy" in which the country does not align with any major powers. But according to Ganjar, the term "free" should mean that Indonesia is free to design "much more strategic policies".
"And by free, it means we are 'free' to set out our strategies, and with whom we intend to work with. We cannot rely on one country alone. We just can't," Ganjar said.
The former Central Java governor commented on how the US-China rivalry could give Indonesia an opportunity in the economic domain. He said: "There are certain goods that these two countries [US and China] refuse to buy from one another. Perhaps we [Indonesia] can try supplying those goods to the two countries."
"I should be able to invite other countries or maybe these two countries to work with Indonesia ... for a mutually beneficial partnership," Ganjar said.
Government data puts China as Indonesia's second-largest source of foreign direct investment (FDI). Beijing invested approximately $5.6 billion in the Southeast Asian country in the first nine months of 2023. American investment in Indonesia over the said period totaled $2.4 billion, thus placing fifth in Indonesia's foreign investment ranking. Singapore became Indonesia's largest FDI source, investing about $12.1 billion throughout January-September.
Indonesia also reported that its bilateral trade with China amounted to $133.6 billion in 2022. This is over threefold of the US-Indonesia trade, which stood at $39.8 billion last year.
Ganjar is set to face Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto and former Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan in next year's presidential race.