Indonesia’s Foreign Policy Positioning between China and the United States: Enduring Themes, Recent Issues, Outlook in the Post-US Election Environment

Please join the United States-Indonesia Society (USINDO) and the Stimson Center on November 12 for a Joint Open Forum on Indonesia’s evolving relations with the United States and China. Indonesia has been committed to navigate its foundational “free and active” and independent foreign policy through the increasing geopolitical rivalry between the United States and China.

However, even with Indonesia’s maintaining its core foreign policy, the U.S. and China have both made recent strong overtures to Indonesia. On the U.S. side, over the past few months the U.S. has notably increased its diplomatic, economic and security outreach to maritime Southeast Asia, and much of the attention has gone to Indonesia.

What does this amplified U.S. activity portend for regional stability, security and prosperity? How is China responding to U.S. initiatives? How is Indonesia, the largest member of ASEAN, balancing its relations with the major powers and dealing with its neighbors on these issues? Our experts will look at these questions from every angle, and give their view of how the U.S. election results will influence this picture.

This event is co-hosted by the US–Indonesia Society (USINDO) and the Stimson Center’s Southeast Asia Forum. It is part of the Southeast Asia Forum’s Virtual Seminar Series.


  • Murray Hiebert is a top Asia expert and skilled researcher with three decades of experience living and working in Asia. He is head of research at BowerGroupAsia and Senior Associate of the Southeast Asia Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. He has previously served as senior director for Southeast Asia at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and a journalist with the Wall Street Journal and the Far Eastern Economic Review. He is the author of two books on Vietnam: Chasing the Tigers and Vietnam Notebook. His newest book, Under Beijing’s Shadow: Southeast Asia’s China Challenge, was released in August 2020. His full bio is available here.
  • Dr. Dewi Fortuna Anwar straddles the world of academia, political activism and government. She is a Research Professor at the Center for Political Studies-Indonesian Institute of Sciences (P2P-LIPI), and Vice Chair of the Board of Directors at The Habibie Center based in Jakarta. Her government service included roles as Deputy Secretary to the Vice President of the Republic of Indonesia and Assistant Minister of State Secretariat for Foreign Affairs. Dr. Anwar has written widely on Indonesia’s democratization, foreign policy, as well as on ASEAN regional political and security issues. She received her PhD from Monash University, Melbourne in 1990, and her M.A. and B.A. (Hons) from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London in 1982 and 1981, respectively.
  • William M. Wise chairs the Stimson Center’s Southeast Asia Forum, a project to promote the study of Southeast Asia at colleges, universities and research centers in the Mid-Atlantic region. He is a Non-Resident Fellow at the Stimson Center, affiliated with the Southeast Asia Program. His full bio is available here.
  • David Merrill is President of the U.S.-Indonesia Society (USINDO), the premier non-government organization devoted to promoting mutual understanding between Indonesia and the United States. Ambassador Merrill’s career has concentrated on Asia. His many posts in the U.S. government include U.S. Ambassador to Bangladesh (1994-1997); Director of USAID in Indonesia; and USAID Deputy Assistant Administrator for Near East, Asia, and Eastern Europe. Following distinguished government service, he managed private sector activities in Asia with multinational energy companies and was a Senior Vice President in international economic consulting. His full bio is available here.
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