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Indonesia shows the value of non-aligned leadership


Indonesia won’t always see eye-to-eye with the West, or with China, which makes it an important balancing force in Asia.

On a trip to Jakarta last month, I asked a senior Indonesian official if he was excited about hosting the G20 leaders’ summit, which took place in mid-November in Bali. ‘We’re counting down,’ he told me, but more out of frustration than anticipation. ‘We just want to get it done.’

Indonesian President Joko Widodo had hoped to use his country’s G20 presidency this year to support his overwhelming focus on economic development and burnish his legacy as he prepares to step down in 2024, having reached the constitutional two-term limit.

However, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, and the ongoing deterioration in US-China relations, put paid to the aspiration that the G20 could be a geopolitics-free forum to promote Indonesia’s inclusive vision of growth and opportunity for all.  Indonesian diplomats were caught between supporting their president’s economic ambitions and outside powers leaning on them to condemn or ignore Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

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