In “The Jakarta Switch”, Hugh White argues we should come to regard Indonesia as a strategic asset – that a strong Indonesia determined to maximise its room for manoeuvre in a region dominated by China would be in Australia’s interests. As always, he forces us to think.
Indonesia’s national strength and political outlook, and the nature of its relationship with China in, say, 2030, are moot. But it will be much wealthier, will want to avoid domination by China and will be located where it has always been, astride our northern approaches. For these reasons alone we should seek greater strategic contiguity with Indonesia. This argument has more resonance if, as many fear, the American regional presence diminishes.