The Challenges Facing US-Indonesia Relations Post-Trump – Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become evident how China has used the public health crisis in order to bolster its influence in Southeast Asia, at the expense of the United States. China has granted significant support to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to address the pandemic, while promising to be a close partner in the region’s slow economic recovery from the contagion.


Beijing’s approach to Indonesia encapsulates its approach well. Last month, Indonesia secured access to COVID-19 vaccines from China’s drug company Sinovac, which will test, manufacture and distribute the vaccine within Indonesia. The agreement was officially signed during the visit of Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi and State-owned Enterprises Minister Erick Thohir to China in August. Following this, Luhut Pandjaitan, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s special envoy, met his counterpart Wang Yi and again reiterated Indonesia’s interest in gaining access to Chinese-made vaccines.

These visits by both countries’ officials demonstrate the progress in relations between Indonesia and China, and prompt an intriguing question about the future of U.S.-Indonesia relations. Despite appearances, however, the U.S. is not sitting on its hands.

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