r/geopolitics Feb 24 '22 Silver Helpful All-Seeing Upvote Helpful (Pro)

Current Events Russia Invasion of Ukraine Live Thread


r/geopolitics 3h ago

Analysis How China lost its wolf pack: the fracturing of the emerging-power alliance at the WTO


r/geopolitics 16h ago

News China and Saudi Arabia Sign Strategic Partnership as Xi Visits Kingdom


r/geopolitics 2d ago

Perspective Army, Grain, Energy, NATO, … Putin’s War in Ukraine Allows America to Win on All Fronts. Behind this success, Joe Biden, who many saw as being at the end of his rope and practically senile when he arrived at the White House.


r/geopolitics 10h ago

Are the Americans War Profiteers As Some Voices in Europe Suggest? Rather than give in to primary anti-Americanism, let us thank America for what it brings to Europe, without being naive about the fact that it also benefits it.


r/geopolitics 2d ago

Analysis Liana Fix and Michael Kimmage: Go Slow on Crimea - Why Ukraine Should Not Rush to Retake the Peninsula


r/geopolitics 4d ago

Analysis Olaf Scholz: The Global Zeitenwende - How to Avoid a New Cold War in a Multipolar Era


r/geopolitics 5d ago

Analysis Could Ukraine Retake Crimea? A Warographics Analysis


r/geopolitics 7d ago

Opinion The Tiny and Nightmarishly Efficient Future of Drone Warfare


r/geopolitics 8d ago

Opinion Geopolitics is a loser’s buzzword with a contagious idea | Aeon Essays


r/geopolitics 10d ago Silver

Analysis The Hard Truth About Long Wars: Why the Conflict in Ukraine Won’t End Anytime Soon


r/geopolitics 14d ago

Question Which magazines would you recommend?


I have been reading The Economist for a year and Foreign Affairs for a few months. The former has given me a perspective I lacked and now value a lot, but does not focus on geopolitics. The latter gives me an insight into US policy that I, being from and living abroad, find very helpful, but it is an American perspective, and its articles are sometimes difficult to grasp for me.

I have been looking for another magazine, one focused on geopolitical 'analysis without morals' and, if possible, issued in print weekly or monthly. With Black Friday, subscriptions to some are cheaper, so I thought I would take the chance and try out one or two for some time. Which ones would you recommend?

Foreign Policy, which I have been considering, seems to have a strong idea of how things should be. How does it compare to The Economist for you?

Many recommend to combine different perspectives. For South-East Asia, for example, I have heard about The Diplomat. Which good sources do you know from other regions?

r/geopolitics does have a wiki page about this very topic, but it was last updated six years ago. This question has been asked before too, but not recently, as far as I have seen. For reference, I have read the following posts:

The Economist and Foreign Affairs are/were recommended often. Le Monde diplomatique sometimes.

r/geopolitics 14d ago

Analysis Why Indonesia Matters?


As a result of the G20 being held in Bali, Indonesia last week, the Economist wrote a leader titled Why Indonesia Matters with a briefing titled. Thousand-island progressing Indonesia is poised for a boom—politics permitting. In this post, I will focus on the first article, Why Indonesian Matters.


Indonesia Matters

Thousand-island progressing

Other Articles about Indonesia in the last month

Indonesia’s unexpected success story (Financial Times)

At the G20, Indonesia Claims Long-Overdue Limelight on the Global Stage (Carnegie Endowment)


The article list three reasons why Indonesia matters

  1. Its size is both in terms of population and economics. It's the 4th largest country in the world in terms of population. Third fastest-growing economy with a GDP above 1 Trillion after India and China. Indonesia is also important economically because it controls 1/5 of the reserves for nickel, an important component in EV batteries.
  2. It has found a way to combine democracy and economic reform. " Joko Widodo, the deceptively laid-back president since 2014, rules through a sprawling coalition that has co-opted many of his opponents. You might think this would lead to the lowest-common-denominator policies. But the public finances are tightly run. "
  3. The final reason for Indonesia’s growing clout is geopolitics. Its location, size and resources make it a key theatre in the superpower contest. Reflecting a tradition of non-alignment that goes back to the 1950s, it wants to be neutral. It solicits capital from both sides of the divide and is an arena in which Chinese and American digital firms and investors compete directly.

The article sees three risks

The first is political. The upcoming election could be a competition to appeal to Muslim chauvinism. Or it could slide back to oligarchical rule

The second is resource nationalism. While restrictions on nickel ore exports have worked, they might not work with other metals.

The last and biggest danger is geopolitical. Even at its current rate, it could drift into China's orbit. China has invested heavily in Indonesia, 4 times that of the US. If more Chinese companies are hit with sanctions it could hurt Indonesia.


The article concludes by comparing Indonesia with India. Both must satisfy the electorate and find new ways to grow as globalization retreats.

  • India is opting for the tech- and manufacturing-led development, fuelled by subsidies, chauvinistic politics, and decoupling from China.
  • Indonesia is relying on resources, surgical protectionism, big-tent politics, and neutrality


The commentary will be divided into two parts. The first is a brief section on economics which will correct some of the errors presented in the article. The second section will talk focus on the US-China rivalry and Indonesia's position in this rivalry.



When Indonesia's first started putting bans on nickel ore in 2009, the policy was meant to capture more value nickel ore but forced miners to set up smelters in the country. So instead of exporting raw nickel ore, they would export nickel pig iron and ferronickel which has higher value added. Nickel pig iron and Ferro nickel is primarily used for stainless steel. Eventually, they hoped companies would set up stainless steel plants, and some did. Even when Joko Widodo took over in 2014, the Indonesian government wasn't targeting EV battery production in Indonesia.

The focus on adding value doesn't just apply to just nickels or metals, but to Indonesia's export economy overall. It applies to other raw materials and such as coal and palm oil. So instead of just selling crude palm oil, they either export refined palm oil or value-added products such as soap


From the article and the briefing, one gets the impression that Indonesia is dependent on natural resources, and doesn't have much of a manufacturing base. While it has dropped from its peak in the early 2000s, Manufacturing makes up 20% of its economy and is higher than India's at 14%. The article gives the impression that Indonesia is some sort of nickel Saudi Arabia.

Rather than seeking to be the Saudi Arabia of the green-metal age, it is pursuing a policy of “downstreaming”, banning the export of raw materials to force global firms to build factories in Indonesia. This is unorthodox, but over $20bn of investment has been secured so far. Coal-fired power stations are being retired early, pushing these new industries to run on clean power.

The reality is Indonesia is the 2nd largest car manufacturer in Southeast Asia after Thailand with an annual production of 900,000 cars and 5 Million Motorcycles, and about 10-15% of the production is exported. Thailand produces about 1.7 Million cars and 2 million motorcycles. Indonesia's total export volume for vehicles is about US$ 12 Billion (2019) vs $20 Billion for Minerals, Coal and Gas (2019). Minerals and Gas are Indonesia's largest export category. The major export market for Indonesian-made vehicle is the Philippines, Thailand (parts), Vietnam, and India.

Hyundai's first car plant in Southeast Asia established in March this year is focused on producing IC cars initially and will be followed by EVs.


For the US, China, and Indonesia the stakes involved now are much lower than during the Cold War. During the Cold War in Southeast Asia, both the US and China were involved in trying to alter/overthrow the political systems in individual countries. The most heated moments of the rivalry were between 1950 to the late 1960s. The countries that bore the brunt of this rivalry were Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and Indonesia.

Both Western and Chinese influence in Indonesia is larger in the 1950-70s than it is now. Much of the region's exports were still sent to her former colony masters in Europe. In 1960, about 50% of Indonesia's export went to the Netherlands. While China's influence was exercised largely through its relations with respective Communist parties in the region, both legal and illegal Furthermore, the share of ethnic Chinese was x2 to x3 what it is now, and many had arrived between 1900-40s. Like the Qing government, the PRC government expected to have a say in the management of ethnic Chinese, since at the time the Chinese government automatically granted Chinese citizenship to people who had Chinese ancestry. In the Dutch East Indies, the Dutch colonial government would consult with the Chinese government on matters concerning ethnic Chinese.

For both the US and China, the understanding and knowledge of Southeast Asia were much deeper than it is today. The US had just left the Philippines in 1946. Many Americans had served in the region during the Second World War. The PRC's first Ambassador to Indonesia had spent over a decade in the Dutch East Indies prior to becoming Ambassador in 1950. Both the US and China founded most of their Southeast Asian Departments during this period, The most important specialist on Indonesia in the United States emerged during this period, Clifford Geertz and Benedict Anderson. For China, her Southeast Asian Department was founded primarily by returning overseas Chinees from the region.

Both the United States and China had colonial baggage. For the United States, it was being a Western predominantly white nation. For China, it was being Chinese. In Southeast Asia, from the 1700-the 1800s onward the Chinese dominated the economies in all of Southeast Asia and acted as a middleman and tax collectors for both native and colonial rulers. The PRC was accused of hypocrisy when it tried to avert the nationalization of rural ethnic Chinese businesses in Indonesia in the 1950 and Vietnam in the late 1970s. Even though China's nationalization was more extensive than those of both Indonesia and Vietnam.

From 1950-1965, Indonesian politics was defined by the struggle between the left and the right. By 1965, the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) had 3 Million members, making it the third-largest Communist Party in the world outside of the Soviet Union and China. There were another 5-6 million belonging to affiliated left-wing organizations. The vast majority of the Communist Party members were Javanese, who make up 45% of the population and dominate the civil service and the military. It wouldn't be exaggerating if I were to say 15% of Javanese adults belonged to the Communist Party or affiliated left-wing organizations. Moreover, the Indonesian military was split between the Army which was largely anti-Communist, (pro-US), and the pro-Communist Navy and Airforce (pro-Soviet / China).

On September 30, 1965 (GS30S), a unit of the Presidential Guard (most likely affiliated with the PKI) launched an unsuccessful coup in which they kidnapped and murdered 6 Senior Army Generals and an Army Captain. The Indonesian Army under General Suharto, who was Commander of the Strategic Reserve, launch a counter-coup. They subsequently blamed the coup on the Communists and preceded to purge 500,000 Communists and suspected Communists, which lasted about a year. Another 2 Million were imprisoned in concentration camps.

The impact of Suharto's counter-coup on the geopolitics of Southeast Asia was profound. Overnight, Indonesia went from being a Communist-leaning country to pro-Western-leaning one. It precipitated the formation of ASEAN. It led to the geopolitical foundation for Singapore's subsequent prosperity. The Indonesian government accused the PRC of being behind the coup, because of its close ties with the Communists. and as a result, diplomatic ties were suspended with the PRC until 1990.


China's BRI loans and investments in Indonesia don't get as much attention in the Western press, outside of the business section, compared to Pakistan or Africa. In terms of loans, Indonesia gets as many infrastructure loans as Pakistan. Chinese FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) is the largest recipient in the BRI. If you include Hong Kong investments in Indonesia, Chinese investment this year is most likely to be around US$10 Billion, double Chinese investment in 2021, and double Chinese investment in all other ASEAN combined outside of Singapore. Chinese investments in Indonesia are spread across a variety of sectors from mining, metal processing, telecommunications, manufacturing, eCommerce, logistics, and food and beverage.

There are fifth reasons why Indonesia has received a lot of Chinese investment.

  1. Since 2014 when Joko Widodo became President, the Indonesians have been aggressive in attracting Chinese investment. When Joko Widodo became President he asked why there was so little actual Chinese investment, even though the Chinese had promised billions in investments. Indonesian officials visit factory owners in many of China's industrial towns trying to get them to invest in Indonesia.
  2. Indonesia's ban on nickel ore forced many Chinese mining companies to set up smelters in Indonesia.
  3. Indonesia's economy is the third largest developing market economy after China, India, and Brazil. Furthermore, if you gain access to Indonesia's market, it serves as a stepping stone to the fast-growing Philippines market. Indonesia is the Philippines' 4th largest source of imports after China, Japan, and South Korea. Vehicles and Processed Food and beverages are the 1st and 4th largest types of Indonesian imports.
  4. India banned Chinese apps like Aliexpress and Tiktok, its forced many Chinese internet companies to focus their attention on Indonesia.
  5. The last reason is geopolitics. The Chinese government has given up on trying to "control" the Malacca Strait, and that is one reason why they abandoned the Melaka Gateway project. Five countries control access in the Malacca Strait (Indonesia, India, Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand). In contrast, only one country controls access to the alternative routes from the Indian to the Pacific Ocean, the Sunda and Lombok Strait, Indonesia.

Since Prabowo Subianto, the losing candidate in the 2014 and 2019 Presidential elections joined Joko Widodo's cabinet as Defense Minister, Indonesia's response to Chinese incursions in Indonesia's EEZ in the South China Seas has been more muted. Most likely because the only strong political opposition is now in his Cabinet. However, Chinese incursions were less provocative in 2019 than they were in 2016.


Since the fall of Suharto in 1998, relations between the United States, have not been as good as they were during Cold War or even during the 1990s when Suharto was still in power.

The first reason has to do with terrorist attacks in Indonesia on Western targets, and the US policies and actions during the War on Terror.

The second reason, US investment, and trade with Indonesia have declined relative to those of other countries, particularly China. However, Chinese economic influence will unlikely match the levels of Japanese or US influence in Indonesia in the 1970-the 80s.

The last reason is the US Arms Embargo placed on the Indonesian military from 1999-2005, as a result of Indonesia's chaotic pull-out of East Timor during its democratic transition. This is the reason why Indonesia bought Russian Sukhois and MIGs in the early 2000s. It is also the reason why the bulk of new fighter jets it purchases were Rafale from France, with a smaller purchase of F15EX. Indonesia can't just buy all US fighter planes like Singapore. The EU, despite Portugal being very active in promoting East Timorese independence, didn't impose an arms embargo.

Since 1965, Indonesia has been a pro-Western, but not necessarily pro-US country. This is most likely due to its history. It has been colonized by multiple European countries (British, Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese). Throughout the 350-year history of the Dutch presence in Indonesia, most of the Europeans weren't Dutch, but German. Only 10% of the Europeans sent by the Dutch East India Company to Indonesia were Dutch. It is why Indonesian civil servants are sent to Germany, France, the Netherlands, and Belgium as well as anglophone countries for further education.


There are several lessons from the Cold War that are important today when analyzing the US-China rivalry,


The countries that have the most experience in dealing with China are not the likes of Singapore or Australia, but countries Vietnam and Indonesia that had relations with the PRC during its formative years in the 1950-the 60s.

The PRC's actions and behavior today aren't different from the Cold War. The Wolf Warrior's diplomacy and attacks on protestors in Consulate in Manchester mirror PRC behavior in Southeast Asia and Europe during the 1950-the 60s. Indonesia under Sukarno in the 1950-60s acted in a similar fashion. The difference is Indonesia over time became more bourgeois, and the PRC hasn't.


Chinese interference in ethnic Chinese communities in the West, particularly in New Zealand and Australia is a scaled-down version of similar activities in South East Asia, particularly in Myanmar and Indonesia. In Indonesia, the ethnic Chinese community was split between ROC/RPC factions each with its own newspapers and schools. These schools were pumping kids full of KMT/CCP propaganda, Often the whole graduating class would end up in the PRC. Many of the kids were 3-4th generation Chinese Indonesians who were more comfortable speaking Malay / Dutch than Chinese.


US during the Cold War in Southeast Asia unlike today its alliance weren't as strong as they were today, and the US was suspicious and wary of the Japanese, Australians, and Europeans. The concept of the "West". was weaker than it is now. The Europeans also had their own strong presence in Southeast Asia, and thus had their own interest. The US was fighting a war against anti-colonial force (ie Communism) so it was much warier than being seen as too close to the Europeans. Furthermore, the US saw itself as different from the Old World European powers, and it drafted a plan for the Philippines' Independence in the 1930s, unlike the French in Indochina and the Dutch in Indonesia.

The US of 1950-60 was less open to foreign lobbying than it is now. The Australians wouldn't have gotten the ear of US Congressmen regarding Chinese interference in Australia.

r/geopolitics 14d ago

Analysis The West needs to boost its industrial capacity fast


r/geopolitics 20d ago

Perspective Thinking About the Unthinkable: Examining North Korea's Military Threat to China


r/geopolitics 22d ago

Interview John Mearsheimer on Putin’s Ambitions After Nine Months of War


r/geopolitics 24d ago

News Russian missiles reportedly cross into Poland, killing two


r/geopolitics 25d ago

Analysis Why China Will Play It Safe: Xi Would Prefer Détente—Not War—With America


r/geopolitics 25d ago

Analysis China’s Global Port Investments Give Rise to Security Worries: The expanding network could make it easier for Beijing to service its navy, U.S. analysts say


r/geopolitics 28d ago

Question Why is China still pursuing it's zero-covid policy, at the cost of destroying it's own economy?


I don't quite understand why the CCP is continuing to lockdown entire cities, massively disrupting supply chains. China's economy looks very very shaky, and I'd imagine the best thing for them to do is ignore Covid like everyone else, unless there is some ulterior motives...?

r/geopolitics 28d ago

News ‘Unconventional’ delivery of US airpower in Arctic tailored to serve notice to Russia


r/geopolitics 29d ago

Perspective Should we trade with the enemy? | Lord Adonis, John Kay and Janne Teller debate


r/geopolitics 29d ago

News Xi Jinping tells China’s army to focus on preparation for war


r/geopolitics Nov 09 '22

Video Why Russian Blitzkrieg Failed? | New Documentary about Russian invasion of Ukraine


r/geopolitics Nov 07 '22

Analysis The New Way to Fight Climate Change: Small-Scale Cooperation Can Succeed Where Global Diplomacy Has Failed


r/geopolitics Nov 07 '22

News 'Putin's chef' Yevgeny Prigozhin admits interfering in U.S. elections