Modi’s Indonesia Visit: Revisiting ties under the shadow of an expansionist China

EditorialModi's Indonesia Visit: Revisiting ties under the shadow of an expansionist China

On the night of 29 May, Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Indonesia on his first official trip to that country and on the 30th morning he was accorded a red carpet welcome at the Merdeka Palace one of the presidential palaces in Indonesia. India and Indonesia elevated their bilateral ties to Comprehensive Strategic partnership and condemned terrorism in all forms including cross-border terrorism. Here are some key takeouts of Modi’s Indonesia visit.

Revisiting the Historical relationship – 

Indonesia known in many Indian Buddhist texts as Suvarnadwipa was a part of the greater India ( a concept that is commonly used to encompass the historical and geographical extent of Indian cultural influence in south-east Asia )

It was President Sukarno of Indonesia who along with Nehru and 3 other leaders were the Founders of NAM, their friendship reaffirmed their 1000 years old ties which was disrupted by their respective colonial masters. President Sukarno was also the first chief guest of Republic Day parade in 1950.

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The relation between the two remained harmonious till Indonesia offered support to Pakistan in war of 1965, eventually mobilizing submarines to help Pakistan. A maritime boundary agreement was issued between the two countries on 14 January 1977.

With the onset of Look East policy by India after liberalization India- Indonesia relations again began to blossom with the last visit of the Indonesian president in December 2016.

Major Takeaways of the Modi’s Indonesia Visit – 

Mr. Modi announced 30 days free visa to Indonesian citizens and invited the diaspora to travel to their country of origin to experience the new India.

Addressing a gathering of Indian diaspora at Jakarta convention center in the Indonesian capital city, he said, “ not only do the names of our nations rhyme, but also there is a distinct rhythm in India-Indonesia friendship.

India and Indonesia also signed 15 agreements including one to boost defense cooperation and called for freedom of navigation in the crucial Indo-pacific region.

In the joint press statement after meeting with Indonesian President Joko Widodo, Modi said that India’s act east policy and the vision of SAGAR ( Security and Growth for all in the Region) matches Widodo’s Maritime Fulcrum vision. He also strongly condemned recent terror strike on 3 Churches in Indonesia second largest city Surabaya and said India stands resolutely in Indonesia’s fight against terrorism.

Uniting against the ambitions of an expansionist China – 

Both India and Indonesia has been due to China’s expansionist and aggressive posture in contemporary times. Both are concerned about the security of sea lanes and China’s aggressive policy in the South China Sea which they hinted in their joint declaration. Indonesia has particularly been concerned about Chinese maritime intrusion near the Natuna island, which it claims as a part of its exclusive economic zone, as well Chinese attempts in the past to include the island in its territorial map. Also, the uncertain policy of US on Indo-pacific has brought these countries closer.

Why India- Indonesia relationship is the need of the time?

A robust India- Indonesia relationship can be regarded as a need of time. The axis of two biggest democracies in Asia can help to curb the ambitions of an authoritarian China and secure the trade lines of Indo-pacific. An American uncertainty on Indo-pacific combined with Modi’s “Act East” and Widodo’s “Maritime Fulcrum Vision” can help both countries to transform their relations and through it transform Asia. Also, let us know which party you will vote in 2019 elections.

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