chapter  7
Rising China’s test for also-rising Indonesia: time for Indonesia to punch its weight?
BySTEVEN DRAKELEY
Pages 15

China’s dramatic rise as a global economic power matched with greatly expanded military capabilities and far more assertive foreign policies is generating tectonic strategic shifts in the balance of power and diplomatic architecture in the AsiaPacific. The other main player in the Asia-Pacific is the USA, whose long-standing regional pre-eminence China is actively seeking to curtail if not eclipse in a classic power transition. India, whose economy is projected to surpass China’s by mid-century, will become the region’s third big player. Not a Pacific power, India has been less involved in this contest to date, but, as a great Asian power and a long-standing rival to China, is unlikely to remain aloof. The efforts of countries like Australia and the USA to enlist India’s cooperation vis-à-vis China will likely elicit a warmer response after the 2014 election of Narendra Mody’s more nationalistic Indian government. Beijing’s publication of a map including part of India in China (Sheridan, 2014) surely provides him encouragement to oblige. India has already opposed China’s stance in the South China Sea and ruffled Beijing’s feathers with a bilateral natural gas exploration agreement with Vietnam (Shekhar, 2012, p. 229). The second tier of regional players includes Japan, South Korea and Australia, all with important strategic interests. There are several smaller but significant players, including Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines, as well as other lesser but still ‘invested’ players like Cambodia, Brunei and Myanmar. And Russia cannot be ignored. Currently cooperating with China for mutual convenience, Russia too has longstanding Asia-Pacific interests and ambitions.