Protecting a Legacy and a Nation’s Influence: President Jokowi’s Latest Diplomatic Endeavor 

The last week saw Indonesian President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) leave Indonesian shores for the Philippines, Vietnam and Brunei in what will likely be one of his last international trips as President. Whilst abroad, he signed a number of partnerships with each nation, deepening existing ties and enjoying a warm welcome from each country’s constituents. 

In the Philippines, Jokowi and Filipino President Ferdinand Marcos Jr met at the 7th Philippine-Indonesia Joint Commission for Bilateral Cooperation on the 75th anniversary of shared diplomatic relations.1 Entering into a memorandum of understanding to strengthen bilateral ties in the energy sector, the leaders also discussed various aspects of collaboration.2 These included trade, enhancing border security, settling continental shelf boundaries, and potential transactions involving the sale of Indonesian anti-submarine warfare aircraft to the Philippine Navy.3 The discussions also addressed heightened tensions in the South China Sea and Indonesia’s intention to champion the implementation of a code of conduct.1

In Vietnam, discussions largely centred around similar topics, with the South China Sea, security and energy also on the agenda. Jokowi also visited Vietnamese electric vehicle manufacturer VinFast’s facilities, announcing plans to prepare the Indonesian market and environment for the future production of EVs and investment in Indonesia by Vietnamese investors.4 This comes as both Vietnam and Indonesia have been promised billions of dollars by the G7 economies to assist in a transition away from fossil fuels via the group’s Just Energy Transition Partnership (JETP).4

Finally, Brunei’s visit saw a continuation of warm receptions for Jokowi, as he attended Prince Mateen’s wedding and attained investment into Nusantara, with Ryada Holding committing US$450 million towards housing projects in the capital.5


With the campaign period well and truly underway, Jokowi’s visits to ASEAN neighbor countries have raised more than a few eyebrows and led to multiple theories about the timing of his visits.6 Regardless, the visits likely sought to establish and protect Indonesia’s influence in ASEAN affairs by cementing Jokowi’s legacy as the leader who did so. Despite its history of neutrality, Indonesia has been increasingly active in international affairs, – although this is more attributed to outgoing Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi than specifically to Jokowi himself – a legacy and level of influence that Jokowi likely wants Indonesia to maintain. By positioning Indonesia as a leader in the pursuit of a South China Sea Code of Conduct and boosting energy and security partnerships with neighbouring countries, Jokowi likely sees his actions as positioning the nation for a prosperous future; one that may now be in question with three presidential candidates contesting the election in February.

[1] PT, (2024), “Indonesia takes leadership in South China Sea Code of Conduct negotiations”, Politics Today, January 10. Retrieved:

[2] Adonis, Meg J., (2024), “Philippines, Indonesia Ink Energy Cooperation Pact”, Inquirer.Net, January 11. Retrieved:

[3] Venzon, Cliff and Calonzo, Andreo, (2024) “Philippines, Indonesia Move to Deepen Energy, Security Ties”, Bloomberg News, January 9. Retrieved:,Joko%20Widodo%27s%20visit%20to%20Manila

[4] Dinh, Hau, and Ghosal, Aniruddha, (2024), “Indonesia’s President Visits Vietnam’s EV Maker VinFast and Says Conditions Ready for a Car Plant”, ABC News, January 13. Retrieved:,and%20invest%20in%20Indonesia%20quickly

[5] Baskoro, Faisal Maliki, (2024), “Brunei’s Ryada Holding Commits $450 Million for Nusantara Housing Projects”, Jakarta Globe, January 15. Retrieved:

[6] The Jakarta Post, (2024), “Megawati vs. Jokowi: Who Wins?”, The Jakarta Post, January 13. Retrieved:


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