Indonesia seeks to expand regional influence at first Pacific Exposition

pacific exposition
Photo: Mia Salim/AusAID

The first ever Pacific Exposition, a major trade and business conference, continues today in Auckland.

The Exposition is a landmark event for the Pacific, attracting foreign ministers from Australia, Indonesia and New Zealand as well as private sector executives and investors from across the region.

While New Zealand is playing host today, Indonesia has been a key player in orchestrating and funding the event. In the wake of political turbulence in Jakarta after the April national election, Indonesia is looking to reassure investor confidence this week. It is also looking to play up its role as a “middle power” in Southeast Asia–– a sort of mediating swing state in the US-China regional dispute.

Though Indonesia backs the maintenance of the status quo vis-à-vis Chinese activity in the South China Sea–– a pro-US stance–– it remains unwilling to adopt a confrontational stance against Chinese expansionism, as Beijing is one of Indonesia’s largest investors.

As the preeminent player in ASEAN, expect Jakarta to continue pushing bloc-wide investment projects and integration today. In the medium and long terms, Indonesia hopes to foster regional independence and bolster itself as a major player in Southeast Asia to maintain “neutrality” in the mounting Sino-American trade and marine disputes.

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