Indonesians See the United States, China as Security Threats: Survey

Diana Mariska
President Joko Widodo during G20 summit in Osaka, Japan, in 2019. (Photo: Ludovic MARIN / POOL / AFP)
President Joko Widodo during G20 summit in Osaka, Japan, in 2019. (Photo: Ludovic MARIN / POOL / AFP) - A recent survey has revealed that almost half of Indonesians see the United States and China as the main threats to Indonesia’s security despite generally trusting the two giants to act responsibly on the global stage.

In its Indonesia Poll 2021 report, Australia-based Lowy Institute sought to find out how people in Indonesia saw themselves and the world at large in a dynamic global stage. And the survey revealed that China topped the list of countries that Indonesians thought pose a threat to their own (49 percent), followed by the United States in second place (43 percent).

Researchers noted that in the similar survey conducted in 2011, only 39 percent of Indonesians perceived China to be posing a threat, but the trend was different for the US as more Indonesians (49 percent) saw the US as a security threat a decade ago.

As for neighboring countries, Malaysia topped the list in 2011 with an almost-staggering 63 percent of Indonesians thought it could shake up Indonesia’s national security, but the figure fell very significantly ten years later with only 23 percent Indonesians saw Malaysia as a threat.

There was no noticeable difference in Indonesians’ view towards Australia with 31 percent and 34 percent of Indonesians considered the southern neighbor as a threat in 2011 and 2021, respectively.

However, interestingly, Indonesians’ view on these countries’ potential as a national threat didn’t directly correlate with a belief that they will act responsibly in the world.

More than half (56 percent) of people surveyed said they trusted the US, a massive 16-point drop since the 2011 survey. Meanwhile, 42 percent of Indonesians said they trusted China to act responsibly, and the figure also fell from 60 percent in 2011.

The report noted that the shift was even starker when it came to Australia with 55 percent expressed their trust in Australia, a 20-point drop from 2011 levels.

Despite their rather mixed views on global leaders and neighboring countries, Indonesians were generally optimistic about what’s in store for their country. As the report noted, “Most Indonesians feel confident about their country’s future, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the associated recession and rising great power tensions in their region. The proportion of people who feel ‘safe’ or ‘very safe’ has risen to 74 percent from 68 percent in 2011 and 43 percent in 2006. Similarly, the vast majority of Indonesians (80 percent) say their country is going in the right direction. This marks a 12-point jump since 2011.”

For this report, the Lowy Institute surveyed around 3,000 Indonesians aged 17 to 65 across 33 provinces between November 29 and December 24, 2021. The questionnaire was developed by the authors, using the baseline of the Lowy Institute’s 2011 Indonesia Poll, and the survey was conducted by Ipsos in Indonesia using a stratified random door-to-door sample with maximum 40 minutes length of interview across the provinces, excluding North Kalimantan.

Tag # indonesia china relation # indonesia us relations # lowy institute # national security # indonesia national security # the united states

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