US efforts to raise sentiment against China are not working in...

Pompeo’s five-day trip takes him to India, Sri Lanka, the Maldives and Indonesia and ends a few days before the US presidential elections.

Aaron Connelly, an American researcher at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in Singapore, said Pompeo was very focused on competing with China and that approach has not been well received in the region.

“You couldn’t identify a country in Southeast Asia willing to join the administration’s approach to China.”

The Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi with her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi.

“One reason is that Southeast Asia sees the US as an attempt to delegitimize China’s power … but they look at US strategy and they don’t know what the endgame is.

“The second reason is that Southeast Asia sees US demands for democracy and human rights as more invasive than China’s, with the exception of the Philippines and Vietnam, for which the South China Sea is a domestic issue.

“The third reason is the economy and business. Look at the money the US is bringing to Indonesia last week, “he said, referring to the signing of a memorandum of understanding worth $ 750 million ($ 1 billion).

“Last year Indonesia proposed $ 91 billion in funding for the Belt and Road [from China] – Orders of magnitude larger. ”

The Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi with her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi.

China is one of Indonesia’s most important trading partners and, alongside Japan, one of the most important sources of direct investment in the country. Indonesia is relying on three Chinese vaccines to contain the spread of the virus.

Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said last month: “We do not want to be caught by this rivalry.”

Dino Patti Djalal, a former Indonesian deputy foreign minister and ambassador to the US, recently snappy wrote that the US had taken China bashing to a new level, but it failed to find a receptive audience in the region as many of these nations were dependent on it China for COVID-19 vaccines and economic investment.

Pompeo’s visit follows recent discussions in Washington between Indonesian Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto and Defense Minister Mark Esper about closer cooperation and possible defense purchases.

The visit is Pompeo’s first since the country rejected a U.S. request to land and refuel P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft on Indonesian soil, according to a Reuters report.

Masked diplomacy: Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne in Tokyo ahead of Tuesday’s quad meeting.Recognition:AFP
Greg Poling, director of the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, said the request was a “bridge too far” for the Indonesian government.

“There is no world in which Indonesia would welcome everyone’s uniformed staff to their floor.”

The Trump administration has frequently criticized China, including island building in the South China Sea, dealing with the coronavirus pandemic and trade practices, and has stepped up US diplomatic efforts to promote a “free and open Indo-Pacific”.

To this end, Australia will next month, for the first time since 2007, take part in naval exercises involving the United States, Japan and India in order to deepen cooperation among the so-called quad countries.

And while much of Europe, India, Japan and Australia agreed with the United States’ tougher line on China, Poling said Indonesia would never join a group like the Quad.

“Indonesia will take care of Indonesia’s interests.”

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James Massola is a Southeast Asia correspondent based in Jakarta. He was previously the chief correspondent in Canberra. He was a three-time Walkley and Quills finalist, won a Kennedy Award for Outstanding Foreign Correspondent, and is the author of The Great Cave Rescue.

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