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Indonesia won’t take sides in US-China Row, says incoming president Prabowo, will maintain open foreign policy approach

Indonesia’s President-elect Prabowo Subianto said his incoming administration will maintain an open foreign policy approach and not be drawn into choosing sides between the US and China as they compete for influence.

“We invite the US, the Japanese, the Koreans, the Europeans. The fact that we are friends with you doesn’t mean we can’t be friends with China, India, Russia,” Prabowo said in an interview with Qatar-based TV news network Al Jazeera released on Sunday.

“Our guiding philosophy is to be friends with all countries,” he said.

Prabowo’s comments come amid a protracted US-China trade war that’s heightened further after American President Joe Biden is set to quadruple tariffs on Chinese electric vehicles among several measures.

China’s leader Xi Jinping, meanwhile, has been on a European tour that’s seen as an attempt to drive a wedge between the bloc and the US by offering economic opportunities.

Indonesia has long maintained an open foreign policy approach, even under incumbent leader, President Joko Widodo. Prabowo, who will take over the post in October, said he will continue the country’s long-standing stance of non-alignment. Despite meeting Xi in April in what was his first overseas state visit after being declared president-elect, Prabowo also went to Japan – a key US ally – suggesting that he will continue the middle-of-the-road strategy in navigating the US-China rivalry.

China is Indonesia’s biggest economic partner and is pouring more than US$7 billion into the nation’s commodity processing capacity.


Indonesia’s new leader Prabowo Subianto meets Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing

Jokowi has maintained a non-confrontational approach over the disputed South China Sea – though Beijing’s claims cut into