Indonesia’s Strategic Narrative on the New Dynamics of Great Power Rivalry in the Indo-Pacific


  • Budi Riyanto Department of Communication, Faculty of Communication, LSPR Institute of Communication and Business, Indonesia
  • Darmansjah Djumala International Relations Department, Faculty of Social and Political Sciences, Universitas Padjadjaran, Indonesia
  • Youzhi Tan Department of International Political Economy, School of International Relations, University of International Business and Economics (UIBE), China



foreign policy, Global Maritime Fulcrum, Indonesia, Indo-Pacific, strategic narrative


Given the rising political tensions between the two great powers, the United States (U.S.) and the People's Republic of China (PRC), a geopolitical shift to the Indo-Pacific region is critical momment in the 21st century. Ideological, economic, military and technological aspects of this new struggle appear to be sharpening. In the current geopolitical change in the Indo-Pacific, two concerns that have not received much attention are addressed in the research, namely the importance of strategic narrative competition in the global information era and the part played by Indonesia in terms of its strategic narratives as a nation in the center of Indo-Pacific geopolitics. By focusing on the interaction of each actor in projecting a story about the order in the new world system, encouraging actors to adapt to their identities and roles in the story, and enacting policies that are in line with their interests, strategic narrative studies have the potential to explore geopolitical issues more thoroughly. Indonesia positions itself actively in a strategic narrative construction that can compete, and create a strategic role that can be played in accordance with its interests rather than playing a passive role and only becoming a victim in the face of the strategic narrative contestation among the great powers. The strategic narrative of Indonesia as it relates to identity, policy, and system is specifically examined in the research. It also examines the role that Indonesia plays in the formulation and projection of the narratives, as well as how the narratives are received in the context of the emerging Indo-Pacific's geopolitical struggle. As a middle power, Indonesia offers a shared strategic narrative that promotes a goal of greater cooperation, hence reducing great power rivalry.


Plum Analytics

Author Biographies

Budi Riyanto, Department of Communication, Faculty of Communication, LSPR Institute of Communication and Business, Indonesia

Budi Riyanto is a lecturer of International Relations studies at the Department of Communication, Faculty of Communication, LSPR Institute of Communication and Business, Jakarta. He is currently pursuing a Ph.D. program in International Relations at the University of International Business and Economics (UIBE) in Beijing and has been awarded the ASEAN-China Young Leaders Scholarship (ACYLS) 2022. His research interest among others is in the communication aspect of International Relations, including public diplomacy, nation branding, soft power, strategic narratives, and digital diplomacy.

Darmansjah Djumala, International Relations Department, Faculty of Social and Political Sciences, Universitas Padjadjaran, Indonesia

Darmansjah Djumala is a doctoral program lecturer in International Relations at the
Faculty of Social and Political Sciences (FISIP) Universitas Padjadjaran (Unpad), Bandung. He is
currently a member of Expert Council for Foreign Relations Strategy at the Pancasila Ideology
Development Agency (BPIP). He was Ambassador of Indonesia to Austria, Slovenia and to the
United Nations in Vienna, prior to which he was Ambassador of Indonesia to Poland. His
research interest is related to Indonesian Diplomacy and Foreign Policy, and International

Youzhi Tan, Department of International Political Economy, School of International Relations, University of International Business and Economics (UIBE), China

Youzhi Tan is Professor of International Relations at the University of International
Business and Economics (UIBE), Beijing. Vice Dean of the Institute of National Security and
Governance, UIBE. He graduated his PhD at Peking University in 2008. He takes a special
interest in Cyberspace Governance, Public Diplomacy, Non-traditional Security and
International Political Economy.


Agastia, I. G. B. D. (2020). Understanding Indonesia’s role in the ‘ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific’: A role theory approach. Asia & the Pacific Policy Studies, 7(3), 293–305.

Allison, G. (2015, September 24). The Thucydides trap: Are U. S. and China headed for war? The Atlantic.

Allison, G., & Blackwill, R. (2013, March 5). Interview: Lee Kuan Yew on the future of U.S.- China relations. The Atlantic.

Anwar, D. F. (2020). Indonesia and the ASEAN outlook on the Indo-Pacific. International Affairs, 96(1), 111–129.

ASEAN Secretariat. (2021, November 21). Joint Statement of the ASEAN-China Special Summit to Commemorate the 30th Anniversary of ASEAN-China Dialogue Relations: Comprehensive Strategic Partnership for Peace, Security and Sustainable Development.

ASEAN Secretariat. (2023, May 11). Chairman’s Statement of the 42nd ASEAN Summit Labuan Bajo, Indonesia, 10-11 MAY 2023.

Australian Department of Defence. (2013). Defence White Paper 2013.

Agastia, I. G. B. D., & Perwita, A. A. B. (2015). Jokowi’s Maritime Axis: Change and continuity of Indonesia’s role in Indo-Pacific. Journal of ASEAN Studies, 3(1), 32–41.

Balakrishnan, V. (2022, May 9). Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Vivian Balakrishnan’s Written Reply to Parliamentary Question on Singapore’s Abstention on the UN General Assembly Vote to Suspend Russia’s Membership in the HRC.

Bao, G. (2023). China–US strategic competition and Indonesia’s status anxiety. East Asian Affairs, 2(2).

Barthwal-Datta, M., & Chacko, P. (2020). The politics of strategic narratives of regional order in the Indo-Pacific: Free, open, prosperous, inclusive? Australian Journal of International Affairs, 74(3), 244–263.

Bland, B. (2021, December 12). In U.S.-China competition, Indonesia is key. The New York Times.

Brands, H., & Gaddis, J. L. (2021). A New Cold War: America, China, and the echoes of history. Foreign Affairs, November-December, 10–20.

Brewster, D., & Farnham, C. (2020). The Indo-Pacific: From concept to contest. Security Challenges, 16(3), 2–4.

Byrne, C. (2020). Securing the “Rules-Based Order” in the Indo-Pacific: The significance of strategic narrative. Security Challenges, 16(3), 10–15.

Cabinet Secretariat of the Republic of Indonesia. (2015, January 8). Bantah Tarik Diri dari Internasional, Menlu: Indonesia Terus Mainkan Peran Middle Power.

Cabinet Secretariat of the Republic of Indonesia. (2018, November 15). Indo-Pacific Cooperation Concept Focuses on Cooperation, Not Rivalry: President Jokowi.

Chan, F. (2018, January 23). US to work with Indonesia on maritime security, counter-terrorism. The Straits Times.

Chongkittavorn, K. (2019, September 24). Appraising China’s stance on the AOIP. Bangkok Post.

Choong, W. (2020). Japan’s Indo-Pacific strategy in Southeast Asia: Floundering, not foundering. ISEAS Yousuf Ishak Institute, (40).

Connelly, A. L. (2014). Indonesian Foreign Policy under President Jokowi. Lowy Institute for International Policy.

de Castro, R. C. (2022). ASEAN in search of a common strategy in the Indo-Pacific. In B. J. Cannon & K. Hakata (Eds.), Indo-Pacific Strategies (pp. 139–156). Routledge.

Djumala, D. (2015, February 9). Diplomacy for maritime fulcrum. The Jakarta Post.

Friedberg, A. L. (2011). A Contest for Supremacy: China, America, and the Struggle for Mastery in Asia. New York: WW Norton & Company.

Ho, B. T. E. (2019). How China Sees the Indo-Pacific: What Next After AOIP? RSIS Commentaries, No. 254). Singapore: Nanyang Technological University.

Hoang, T. H. (2021a). ASEAN Navigates between Indo-Pacific Polemics and Potentials. Perspective, ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute, 49(2021).

Hoang, T. H. (2021b). The ASEAN-China Comprehensive Strategic Partnership: What’s in a Name? Perspective, ISEAS-Yusof

Ishak Institute, 157(2021).

Indraswari, R. (2022). ASEAN centrality: Comparative case study of Indonesia leadership. Journal of ASEAN Studies, 10(1), 1–19.

Jemadu, A., & Lantang, F. (2021). Contested interpretations of Indonesia’s international leadership in the foreign policy of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Joko Widodo. Journal of ASEAN Studies, 9(2), 199–217.

Kaplan, R. D. (2015). Asia’s cauldron: The South China Sea and the end of a stable Pacific. Random House Trade Paperbacks.

Kumar, R. (2018). Research Methodology: A Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners. London: SAGE Publications.

Laksamana, E. (2019, November 8). Indonesia as “Global Maritime Fulcrum”: A post-mortem analysis. Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative.

Li, X. (2022, May 14). Is the Biden administration serious about ‘ASEAN Centrality’? The Diplomat.

Medcalf, R. (2014, October 21). Jokowi’s Maritime Inaugural Address. The Interpreter.

Medcalf, R. (2018). Australia’s foreign Policy White Paper: Navigating uncertainty in the Indo-Pacific. Security Challenges, 14(1), 33–39.

Medcalf, R. (2020). Contest for the Indo-Pacific: Why China won’t Map the Future. Black Inc.

Ministry of Communications and Informatics of the Republic of Indonesia. (2023, May 23). Indonesia Underscores ASEAN Outlook on Indo-Pacific (AOIP) Importance - ASEAN Indonesia 2023.

Ministry of External Affairs of India. (2018, May 30). Shared Vision of India-Indonesia Maritime Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia. (n.d.). Indonesia’s Foreign Policy.

Ministry of State Secretariat. (2020, November 14). Presiden: KTT Asia Timur Harus Tingkatkan Ketahanan Kesehatan dan Stabilitas Kawasan.

Miskimmon, A., O’Loughlin, B., & Roselle, L. (2018). Strategic narrative: 21st century diplomatic statecraft. Revista Mexicana de Política Exterior, 113.

Miskimmon, A., O’Loughlin, B., & Roselle, L. (2014). Strategic Narratives: Communication Power and the New World Order. Routledge.

Miskimmon, A., O’Loughlin, B., & Roselle, L. (2017). Forging the World: Strategic Narratives and International Relations. University of Michigan Press.

MoFA of Japan (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan). (2022, December 16). National Security Strategy of Japan.

MoFA of Japan (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan). (2021). Progress Report on Japan’s Cooperation for the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific.

MoFA of PRC (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China). (2022a, August 4). Position Paper of the People’s Republic of China on Supporting ASEAN Centrality in the Evolving Regional Architecture.

MoFA of PRC (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China). (2022, October 25). Full text of the report to the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China.

MoFA of PRC (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China). (2022b, November 16). Joint Statement between The People’s Republic of China and The Republic of Indonesia.

Mubah, A. S. (2020). Indonesia’s double hedging strategy toward the United States–China competition: Shaping regional order in the Indo-Pacific? Issues & Studies, 55(4).

Nankervis, W. (2021, September 20). Australia’s steadfast commitment to ASEAN centrality. Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Natalegawa, M. (2013, May 20). An Indonesian perspective on the Indo-Pacific. The Jakarta Post.

Pratiwi, F. I., Puspitasari, I., Hikmawati, I., & Bagus, H. (2021). Global Maritime Fulcrum: Indonesia’s middle power strategy between Belt and Road Initiatives (BRI) and Free-Open Indo Pacific (FOIP). Central European Journal of International and Security Studies, 15(3), 30–54.

Reinventing the Indo-Pacific. (2023, January 4). The Economist.

Rossiter, A. (2018). The “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” Strategy and Japan’s Emerging Security Posture. Rising Powers Quarterly, 3(2), 113–131.

Rosyidin, M., & Pattipeilohy, S. C. H. (2020). Regionalism under challenge: Ideas and Joko Widodo’s foreign policy towards ASEAN, 2014-2019. Journal of ASEAN Studies, 8(2), 147–172.

Rudd, K. (2022). The Avoidable War: The Dangers of a Catastrophic Conflict between the US and Xi Jinping’s China. PublicAffairs.

Salim, T., & Sundaryani, F. (2017, January 16). Abe offers RI Indo-Pacific strategy. The Jakarta Post.

Schmitt, O. (2018). When are strategic narratives effective? The shaping of political discourse through the interaction between political myths and strategic narratives. Contemporary Security Policy, 39(4), 487–511.

Scott, D. (2019). Indonesia grapples with the Indo-Pacific: Outreach, strategic discourse, and diplomacy. Journal of Current Southeast Asian Affairs, 38(2), 194–217.

Shambaugh, D. (2020). Where great powers meet: America and China in Southeast Asia. Oxford University Press.

Shekhar, V. (2018). Indonesia’s foreign policy and grand strategy in the 21st century: Rise of an Indo-Pacific power. Routledge.

Sukma, R. (1995). The evolution of Indonesia’s foreign policy: An Indonesian view. Asian Survey, 35(3), 304–315.

Sukma, R. (2009, June 30). Indonesia needs a post-ASEAN foreign policy. The Jakarta Post.

Suryadinata, L. (2018). Indonesia and its Stance on the “Indo-Pacific.” Perspective, 66(2018).

Sutrisno, B. (2020, September 4). ‘Indonesia won’t be military base for any country’, Retno says, dismissing Pentagon report. The Jakarta Post.

Tham, J. (2018, May 16). What’s in Indonesia’s Indo-Pacific cooperation concept? The Diplomat.

The White House. (2021a, March 12). Quad Leaders’ Joint Statement: “The Spirit of the Quad.”

The White House. (2021b, September 15). Remarks by President Biden, Prime Minister Morrison of Australia, and Prime Minister Johnson of the United Kingdom Announcing the Creation of AUKUS.

The White House. (2022a). National Security Strategy.

The White House. (2022b, February 11). FACT SHEET: Indo-Pacific Strategy of the United States.

Van Noort, C. (2017). Study of strategic narratives: The case of BRICS. Politics and Governance, 5(3), 121–129.

Weatherbee, D. E. (2019). Indonesia, ASEAN, and the Indo-Pacific cooperation concept. ISEAS Perspective, 47(2019).

Wicaksana, I. G. W., & Karim, M. F. (2022). Approaches to Indonesia’s foreign policy: Area studies, FPA theory, and global IR. Journal of ASEAN Studies, 10(2), 161–180.

Widodo, J. (2014, October 20). FULL TEXT: Jokowi’s Inauguration Speech.

Wilkins, T., & Kim, J. (2020). Adoption, accommodation or opposition? - regional powers respond to American-led Indo-Pacific strategy. The Pacific Review, 35(3), 415–445.

Xinli, Q. (2019, July 23). Why BRI-GMF cooperation benefits China and Indonesia. The Jakarta Post.



Abstract 1151  .
PDF downloaded 796  .