Southeast Asia has for some time been an attractive market for Chinese tech companies looking to expand overseas. Within the region, Indonesia has been a preferred investment destination due to its large consumer base and cordial diplomatic relations with China. In 2021, China’s foreign direct investment in Indonesia amounted to US$3.21bn, and Chinese venture capital investments in Indonesia’s six tech unicorns up to 2021 were more than double that of the United States at US$4.6bn compared to US$2.1bn.
However, surveys show low and decreasing trust toward China. Yet, Chinese tech firms have become trusted tech suppliers to the Indonesian government. The dynamics are complex – Indonesia strives to maintain an independent yet active foreign policy stance given geopolitical rivalries in the region, and there is a mixture of respect, suspicion and caution in Indonesia towards China. Nevertheless, through their efforts to localise, tech infrastructure companies like Huawei and ZTE – which have faced considerable obstacles in other parts of the world – have achieved a degree of success in Indonesia, while Chinese apps and smartphones are also popular.
In this webinar, we aim to make sense of the growing Chinese tech presence in Indonesia amidst a complex domestic, regional and global context, and tease out potential implications for the wider region.
Organised by the National Security College (Australian National University) and Future Issues and Technology Research Cluster (RSIS) with support from the Centre of Excellence for National Security (RSIS)..
About the Panellists
Evi Fitriani is a Professor of International Relations at the Faculty of Social and Political Sciences, Universitas Indonesia, where she also co-founded the university’s ASEAN Study Centre. She is Indonesia’s Country Coordinator for the Network of East Asian Think Tanks, a Track II platform of the ASEAN Plus Three cooperation process. She also helped establish a Master’s programme in European Studies at Universitas Indonesia in 2003, and has received more than 20 international grants and scholarships. Her research interests include Indonesia’s foreign policy, ASEAN, regionalism, Asia-Europe relations, and Indonesia-Australia relations.
Dirk van der Kley is a Research Fellow jointly appointed to the National Security College and the School of Regulation and Global Governance at the Australian National University. He specialises in China’s overseas technology and economic policies in the Indo-Pacific, and is a member of the ANU Working Group on Geoeconomics. He is also a board member for the Oxus Society for Central Asian Affairs. Prior to joining ANU, Dirk was the Programme Director for Policy Research at China Matters, and worked at the Lowy Institute for International Affairs. Dirk has taught at the OSCE Academy in Bishkek and held visiting fellowships in China, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. He has a PhD from the ANU.
Gatra Priyandita is an Analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, where he examines cyber politics in Southeast Asia. He also leads a project on cyber-enabled intellectual property theft. Outside of ASPI, Gatra is a non-resident WSD-Handa Fellow at the Pacific Forum, where he is conducting research on Sino-Indonesian relations. Gatra is a political scientist by training, with a specific interest in the intersections of comparative politics and International Relations in Southeast Asia. He holds a PhD in Political Science from the Australian National University. He was also awarded a Bachelor of Asia-Pacific Security (Honours) from the ANU in 2014.
Fitriani Bintang Timur is the Cyber Security Project Lead and a Senior Researcher in the International Relations Department, Centre for Strategic and International Studies, Indonesia. Her research concerns non-traditional security, Women, Peace and Security, peacekeeping, as well as cyber security. She obtained her PhD in Security and Defence Studies from Cranfield University in the United Kingdom. Her recent publications include “Towards a Resilient Regional Cyber Security: Perspectives and Challenges in Southeast Asia” (2019) and “Rowing Between Two Digital Reefs: The Encroaching Great Power Competition” (2022). Fitri is also a member of the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs roster of experts on cyber diplomacy, Co-Chair of the Women, Peace and Security Study Group of the Council for Security Cooperation in the Asia Pacific, and a consultant on cyber security implications for the WPS agenda for UN Women.
Manoj Harjani is a Research Fellow with the Future Issues and Technology research cluster, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. Prior to joining RSIS, Manoj worked on building the digital capabilities of Singapore’s public sector workforce. He also served in the Prime Minister’s Office Strategy Group and Ministry of Trade and Industry in roles focusing on emerging strategic risks, horizon scanning and strategic foresight capability building. Manoj holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the National University of Singapore.