Futile move to drive a wedge between partners

Indonesian President Joko Widodo paid a visit to China from Monday to Tuesday, as the first stop on his tour of East Asia since the COVID-19 pandemic broke out in 2020.

This fully reflects the importance that China and Indonesia attach to their relations, and their shared desire to further deepen their cooperation.

In a move that only served to highlight the good relations between China and Indonesia, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley stopped in Indonesia on Sunday, en route to Australia to attend a meeting of Indo-Pacific chiefs of defense, in an attempt to sow the seeds of discord and entice Indonesia into joining the US' anti-China club.

By saying that the US wants to collectively modernize the military of those countries in the club to ensure they can meet "whatever challenge China poses", he also made clear that it is the US that is significantly and noticeably more aggressive in the region.

Such remarks show that Washington does not consider Indonesia and other members of its club as equal partners.

Washington views the Pacific as a chessboard and the nations in it simply as chess pieces to be used in its game with China.

But at the Shangri-la Dialogue held in June, Indonesian Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto said that "China has always been the leading civilization in Asia" and expressed his hope that leaders of both China and the US will be wise. A signal that could not be any clearer: Indonesia does not want to take sides between China and the US, and it wants to maintain a good relationship with its neighbor.

The US efforts to drive a wedge between Indonesia and China are bound to fail because the world is composed of sovereign nations, not chess pieces. For Indonesia, which is the biggest country with the largest population among the members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, China is a key neighbor and partner.

Their bilateral trade volume exceeded $120 billion in 2021, 58.6 percent higher than that of 2020, the largest increase in China's trade among all the ASEAN members. China has been Indonesia's biggest trade partner for nine successive years, while the two countries have been making progress in key programs such as the Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway and regional comprehensive economic corridors.

What the US is bringing to the region is warships and warplanes, both its own and those of its allies, and a patronizing demand for subservience. China meanwhile has brought infrastructure and opportunities and a vision for betterment in the lives of all people in the region, which it is seeking to realize through collaborative efforts.