Indonesia stresses ‘Asian way’ for resolving challenges in a multipolar region

Indonesia's Defence Minister Prabowo Subianto

Indonesia stresses ‘Asian way’ for resolving challenges in a multipolar region

Indonesia’s Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto on Saturday (June 11) stressed Asian nations’ prerogative to use their own brand of diplomacy to resolve the geopolitical challenges that come their way, as he expounded on the rationale behind his country’s choice not to take sides in international conflicts.

Drawing upon the political history of Indonesia and its surrounding region, Prabowo said those experiences had brought about an awareness in Asian nations of the importance of “wise and benevolent leadership”.

“South-east Asia, in fact, Asia, has been for many centuries at the crossroads of imperialism, big-power domination, exploitation, depredation,” the defense minister said at Asia’s top security summit, the Shangri-La Dialogue, in Singapore.

“We are the most affected by big-power competition, and therefore… we have come to our own. the Asian way, of resolving these challenges. Our common experience of being dominated, enslaved, exploited, has forced us now to strive to create a peaceful environment, one of friendship.

“We have our differences, we have competing territorial claims… but our view is that we must strive for understanding, for communication, and we are proud that we have… achieved nearly 50 years of peace, friendly cooperation and prosperity.”

Prabowo, who was speaking at a plenary session on managing geopolitical competition in a multipolar region, defined “the Asian way” as each country in the region having their own approaches towards resolving their challenges “in a mutually beneficial way… without resorting to any force”, but each one at the same time also maintaining good relations with their neighbors and the big powers.

The minister said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine had shown Indonesia that it cannot take its security and independence for granted, making a case for strengthening its defenses.

Indonesia supports “a rules-based international order because we are the most affected by any order that just relies on big powers, and our experience of being colonized, being exploited, is always in our subconsciousness”, he said.

Indonesia has adopted the United Nations General Assembly’s resolution condemning the invasion of Ukraine and demanding for Russia’s immediate withdrawal, but it has declined Kyiv’s request for weapons, though it says it is ready to send humanitarian aid.

“Your enemy is not necessarily my enemy,” Prabowo said, citing a popular quote by anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela in explaining Indonesia’s foreign policy stance.

Indonesia remembers the help it has received from various countries including the United States, Russia and China in its times of struggle, and it will not forget these favors in the good times, he added.



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