Analysing Indonesian Media and Government Representation of China

Senia Febrica and Suzie Sudarman

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Abstract:  The discussion of regional leadership in Southeast Asia tends to be dominated by analysis of the relationship between the United States and China. Looking beyond great power competition this article examines how China’s relations with Indonesia and Southeast Asia are represented in Indonesian national media, government documents and statements through a content analysis of government documents and media reports from 2008-2015. This is worth studying because Indonesia is the largest country in Southeast Asia and has its own aspirations of regional leadership. Using semi-structured interviews and content analysis of government documents and newspaper articles, this article presents empirical evidence that is currently lacking in research regarding perception or representation of China. The current literature on Sino-Indonesian relations points to Indonesia’s ambiguity in dealing with China. The findings presented in this article support this line of argument.

Keywords:  Indonesia; South China Sea; Belt Road Initiative; Southeast Asia.