Trust in both China and the United States has clearly declined amongst
Indonesians, but more negativity exists in relation to China. There is also a
significant increase in the number of Indonesians that wish to see Indonesia
playing a more significant role in relation to China.
In policy areas typically seen as China’s stronghold — economy and investment —
its standing has declined relative to the United States. For example, when asked
which country is the most important for Indonesia’s economy, 18% choose the
United States, while 12% say China. Four in ten Indonesians (42%) are
in favour of investment from the United States, compared to 30% with regard to investment from China. In 2011, the majority of Indonesians said China would be Asia’s leading economic power — a view now held by only 31% of Indonesians, a 21-point fall in the past decade.
More broadly, in a side-by-side comparison across different questions, China
ranks less favourably than the United States across a range of indicators, from
military and economic leadership, and influence and security concerns, to ‘soft
power’ benchmarks such as education and work destinations.
Six in ten Indonesians (60%) either strongly agree or agree that ‘Indonesia
should join with other countries to limit China’s influence’, an increase of ten
points since 2011. However, the majority of Indonesians (55%) now agree that
’Indonesia is doing enough to pressure China to improve human rights’.
In a significant 11-point decline, only 43% of Indonesians now say that ‘China’s
growth has been good for Indonesia’, a view previously held by the majority (54%
in 2011). Almost half the population (48%) agree that China’s aim is to dominate
Asia, and four in ten (40%) say ‘the United States should give China a larger
say in regional affairs’. Despite this, only a minority (40%, up four points
from 2011) say ‘Indonesia’s interests would not be harmed if China gained more
power and influence’.
Attitudes to China
Please say whether you strongly agree, agree, disagree or strongly disagree with the following statements (% that strongly agree or agree).
China’s growth has been good for Indonesia
The US should give China a larger say in regional affairs
China’s aim is to dominate Asia
Indonesia should join with other countries to limit China’s influence
Indonesia’s interests would not be harmed if China gained more power/influence
Indonesia is doing enough to pressure China to improve human rights
The Indonesian public seems uncertain about the consequences of US–China great
power competition in the region. When asked about whether China or the United
States will be the leading military power in Asia in 20 years, around a third of
Indonesians (36%) say the United States will be Asia’s leading military power, a
22-point fall from 2011. Around a fifth (22%) say China will be Asia’s leading
military power, and a striking 36% say that they do not know which country will
be Asia’s leading military power in 20 years.
Leading military power in Asia
Do you personally think China or the United States will be the leading military power in Asia in 20 years’ time, or will it be another country?
Indonesians are divided on many issues, but there is overwhelming consensus on
the question of great power conflict. A significant 84% of Indonesians say that
in the event of a potential conflict between the United States and China,
Indonesia should remain neutral. A mere 4% say that Indonesia should support the
United States, and 1% say Indonesia should support China.
In 2011, when asked about which economy would be the leading power in Asia in 20
years, the majority of Indonesians said China would be Asia’s leading economic
power — a view now held only by 31% of Indonesians, a 21-point fall in the past
decade. A quarter (25%) say that the United States will be the leading economic
power in Asia in 20 years, similar to the 2011 result. Again, a large percentage of
respondents (36%) did not know which country would be the region’s leading
Leading economic power in Asia
Do you personally think China or the United States will be the leading economic power in Asia in 20 years’ time, or will it be another country?
Indonesians appear to have low levels of concern about foreign interference. Only 33% say they are concerned about China’s influence in Indonesia, and
some of the main reasons they offer include the dominance of Chinese companies
in the Indonesian economy and concerns about the number of Chinese workers in
Indonesia. Even fewer Indonesians (19%) are concerned about the United States’
influence in Indonesia. When asked about the source of their concerns, some
express anxiety about the influence of the US economy and the fear that American
culture is ‘too free’.
Concern about foreign influence
Are you concerned or not concerned about the United States / China’s influence in Indonesia?