Indonesia moves to assert its maritime interests between two oceans

A picture showing two Indonesian military men as they watched the sinking of a foreign fishing vessel off the Sumatran coast
A vessel caught illegally fishing in the waters off North Sumatra is being blown up by the Indonesian military (source: dpa)
  • Indonesia sees its future as ‘a strong maritime nation’ contributing to peace and stability in the region
  • The country’s new maritime strategy has a security component, but accelerating economic growth is the primary objective
  • Jakarta will move slowly implementing its vision to try to avoid upsetting its delicate relations with China

Indonesia, an archipelagic state with some 17,000 islands and a population of more than 261 million people, is the only country in Southeast Asia to have adopted a regional and global maritime strategy. It seeks to assert itself as a natural gatekeeper in the passage between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. But there is also China to be reckoned with.

In 2014, Jakarta announced the Global Maritime Fulcrum (GMF) doctrine. The project was perceived as potentially competing with or complementary to China’s Maritime Silk Road (MSR), which is a part of Beijing’s grand Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

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