Although Indonesia has agreed to collaborate with China on various infrastructure development projects related to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), President Jokowi’s government has refrained from fully engaging with the initiative primarily because his regime needs to strike a balance between competing pathways to domestic authority. Democratic legitimacy aside, Jokowi’s authority is based on side payments to powerful oligarchs and political elites, development- based performance justification, welfare interventions, and nationalist ideology. His authority is mainly challenged by Islamist hardliners and populist nationalists whipping up anti-Chinese sentiment. On one hand, Jokowi’s developmental agenda pushes Indonesia toward engaging China and BRI. On the other, nationalism and rising anti-Chinese mobilization constrain this engagement, requiring the government to maintain its distance from Beijing to avoid undermining the regime’s overall domestic authority.
- Belt and Road Initiative