Indonesian President Joko Widodo has emphasized the importance of unity within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), stating that the economic bloc must maintain strong ties for regional stability. President Widodo made these remarks during the ASEAN summit in Jakarta on Wednesday, urging member states to work together for fair and mutually beneficial cooperation and discouraging feuds and conflicts between neighboring countries.
“We have agreed not to be proxies for any powers. We must not turn our ship into a battleground for destructive rivalries,” President Widodo said, likening ASEAN to a vessel at sea. He urged leaders to ensure that the ship continues to move towards peace, stability, and prosperity.
The Indonesian president also called for a long-term tactical strategy, emphasizing the need for ASEAN members to develop a plan for cooperation that is relevant and meets people’s expectations. These comments come shortly after Indonesia’s defense chief, Prabowo Subianto, visited the United States for talks with his American counterpart. During the trip, the Pentagon issued a joint press statement attributed to Subianto that criticized both Russia and China. However, Subianto later distanced himself from the statement, clarifying that Indonesia seeks good relations with both countries.
“There is no joint statement and no press conference. What is important for me to underline is that our relationship with China is very good. We respect each other, we already have mutual understanding. I conveyed that in the US. We are close friends with China, we respect America, and we seek friendship with Russia,” Subianto stated.
Currently, the United States and Russia are involved in a standoff over Ukraine, while tensions between the US and China persist due to various issues like trade and Taiwan. Despite this, Indonesia’s defense minister has plans to visit both Beijing and Moscow in the coming months, emphasizing the country’s commitment to maintaining friendly relations with both powers.
ASEAN, founded during the Cold War, consists of 10 member states and represents around 600 million individuals. The organization places significant emphasis on economic development and also maintains a network of alliances and partnerships to foster diplomacy in the region.
Later this week, ASEAN members will convene for their East Asia summit, with the participation of top officials from Russia, China, India, Japan, and the United States. This summit serves as another opportunity for leaders to discuss and address regional issues while promoting cooperation and stability.
President Widodo’s call for unity within ASEAN reinforces the importance of maintaining strong relations among member states for regional stability. By emphasizing cooperation over rivalry, ASEAN can continue to work towards achieving peace, stability, and prosperity for all its members.