Dr Evi Fitriani2, Dr Dave McRae1
1Asia Institute, University Of Melbourne, , Australia, 2Faculty of Social and Political Sciences, Universitas Indonesia, , Indonesia
Public debate has intensified in recent years in both Australia and Indonesia regarding China’s involvement in each country’s domestic affairs. Two differences stand out. In Australia, public debate on Chinese investment has shifted from an initial pre-occupation with the consequences for Australian workers and long-term national prosperity to instead focus on security concerns, a theme that is absent in Indonesia. There has been no equivalent, for example, of the various Chinese tenders and investments that have been banned, disallowed or have become controversial on national security grounds in Australia. A second, newer strand of Australian debate is also absent in Indonesia, namely the focus since 2017 on efforts by China to cultivate political influence within Australia. Such concerns have culminated in the passage of new foreign interference legislation in Australia in 2018. This paper investigates the drivers of these differences, despite broad commonalities in contextual factors between the two countries, with the goal of contributing to scholarship on the ways in which regional countries are responding to China’s rise.
Evi Fitriani is a senior lecturer in the International Relations Department, Faculty of Social and Political Sciences, Universitas Indonesia. She is also the Head of Miriam Budiardjo Resource Center of FISIP UI. She is the author of Southeast Asians and the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM): State’s interests and institution’s longevity (2014).
Dave McRae is a senior lecturer at the University of Melbourne’s Asia Institute. He is the author of A Few Poorly Organized Men: Interreligious Violence in Poso, Indonesia and co-author with Jemma Purdey and Antje MIssbach of Indonesia: State and Society in Transition . He co-hosts the Talking Indonesia podcast.