[RECAP] Cangkir Teh #2: “The Transformation of Indonesia’s South-South Cooperation: From Solidarity to Interests?”

On Friday March 19th, the Institute of International Studies, Universitas Gadjah Mada (IIS UGM), held the second edition of the Cangkir Teh discussion virtually using Zoom Meetings. In this occasion, IIS UGM invited Rizky Alif Alvian, a professor at the International Relations Department, Universitas Gadjah Mada, as a speaker in this discussion–titled “The Transformation of Indonesia’s South-South Cooperation: From Solidarity to Interests?”. Alongside Rizky, IIS UGM also invited Muhammad Indrawan Jatmika, research staff at IIS UGM as the moderator of this discussion.

In this discussion, Rizky explained an article that he wrote with Dr. Poppy S. Winanti, titled “Indonesia’s South-South cooperation: when normative and material interests converged”. The article was published in the International Relations of the Asia Pacific journal in the September 2019 edition. Through this discussion, Rizky invites the participants to discuss the transformation dynamics of Indonesia’s South-South cooperation and the combination between normative and material interests that are involved–influenced by the political dynamic Indonesia experience.

Rizky opened the session by analyzing the definition of the “South” that is often used in the development discourse, where he sees that the majority of the Global South states experience the same fate as postcolonial countries. This can be seen from the actors who are involved in the Bandung Conference. These Global South states then form a cooperation initiative based on two foundations. First, normative interests, based on the shared sense of fate and the will to no longer be an object of the Global North, and material interests, based on each country’s political and economic interests, including Indonesia.

However, over time, South-South cooperation experienced a transformation, including those done by Indonesia. Consequently, the motivation of the cooperation that started with a normative foundation shifted to a convergence between normative and material interests. In this contemporary era, Rizky argues that Indonesia’s foundation of South-South cooperation is a convergence between normative and material goods.

Furthermore, Rizky divided Indonesia’s South-South cooperation into three different phases. During the Old Order, Indonesia’s South-South cooperation was fully based on normative interests grounded on solidarity to make a revolutionary Global South cooperation. In the second phase, under the New Order, Indonesia started to prioritize material goods by prioritizing political and economic gains as the main backdrop in designing South-South cooperation. The last phase, or the third phase, is marked by the convergence between normative and material interests–started during the Reform era and is continually preserved until now.

After the presentation, Rizky invited the participants to discuss together the South-South cooperation Indonesia has done. Moderated by Indrawan, the discussion session went well and was filled with the participants’ enthusiasm.

Writer : Raditya Bomantara

Editor : Mariola Yansverio

[RECAP] Beyond the Great Wall #13: China and Maritime Sovereignty

On Friday (26/02), Institute of International Studies UGM organized the 13th edition of Beyond the Great Wall Forum, titled “China and  Maritime Sovereignty”. The forum was held online via Zoom Meeting platform. In this event, BTGW invited Aristyo Rizka Darmawan, a professor and researcher for the Center for Sustainable Ocean Policy in the Faculty of Law of Universitas Indonesia. Aristyo’s presentation was titled “China’s New Coast Guard Law: Illegal and Escalatory”. This forum was moderated by Nur Rachmat Yuliantoro, a professor in the International Relations Department UGM.

Last February, the Chinese government has officially authorized China’s New Coast Guard Law. This legislation allows China’s Coast Guard (CCG) to mobilize all capabilities (including the use of force) against parties that are deemed to be interfering with China’s maritime sovereignty and jurisdiction. According to Aristyo’s presentation, this new legislation violates international law and would in fact, escalate tensions among bordering states. At the beginning of his presentation, Aristyo explained that the CCG has a long history in its development. Since 2013, the CCG Bureau was formed to unify China’s legal maritime entities, titled the “Five Dragons, ” including China Marine Surveillance, Chinese Coast Guard, Chinese Maritime Patrol, China Fisheries Law Enforcement Command, and General Administration of Customs. This effort is part of China’s grand ambition to sustain and protect its territorial integration, especially regarding China’s Nine-Dash Line claim that has provoked conflict with East Asian and Southeast Asian states.

Highlighting this issue from the jurisdiction and international law aspect, Aristyo stated that the CCG law is essentially illegal. The CCG law is highly problematic from the jurisdiction side because it would violate other states’ sovereignty, which is legally guaranteed under international law. In addition to that, China’s Nine-Dash line claim would make any territory under the claim illegal. The new law that would allow the CCG’s use of force against parties deemed to interfere in China’s jurisdiction and maritime sovereignty violates international law that forbids any activity in a disputed territory. Not only that, the new CCG law explicitly violates several international laws and treaties, namely the UNCLOS and the UN Charter. Through its new CCG law, China has violated international instruments that forbid states to employ their military capability in resolving maritime disputes.

Moreover, Aristyo explained the new CCG law’s escalation impact; it would increase tensions between China and its bordering countries. China’s Nine-Dash Line claim has pushed itself into being stuck in several maritime disputes with East Asian and Southeast Asian countries. So far, China shows no hesitation in employing coercive means and threatening these countries, even though there is an ongoing effort to negotiate a Code of Conduct (CoC). The new CCG bill’s authorisation will have sour implications towards the CoC negotiation process, sending a message that Beijing does not take the negotiations seriously. Tensions will escalate not only with states who are directly involved in this dispute, but also with the US—noting that the US also plays a role in this maritime territorial dispute.

At the end of his presentation, Aristyo stated that several international actors could take several actions in regards to China passing the new CCG Law. According to him, other claimant countries or countries concerned with the South China Sea dispute could have shown a more robust response. In this case, the response can be in the form of condemnation or pressure against China to quickly evoke or amend the law. In terms of Indonesia, Aristyo claimed that the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs had invited the Chinese Ambassador for talks, but the invitation was left unanswered. Aristyo suggested that it is time for Indonesia to send a diplomatic note to Beijing to show a concrete effort of Indonesia’s commitment to ensuring peace in the Southeast Asian region. Nevertheless, he also stresses that Indonesia must be prepared for all possibilities, especially because Indonesian maritime resources are far behind China’s.

Writer : Brigitta Kalina

Editor : Mariola Yansverio

[RECAP] Cangkir Teh #1 : : “Defending Democracy Amidst a Pandemic–Nonviolent resistance in Indonesia and the World 2020.”

The first Cangkir Teh discussion was held on Monday, February 22nd 2021. The discussion was a collaborative effort between the Institute of International Studies, Universitas Gadjah Mada (IIS UGM) and Damai Pangkal Damai Team (DPD). This forum’s main agenda is to discuss and dissect the “Defending Democracy Amidst a Pandemic–Nonviolent resistance in Indonesia and the World 2020” report. On this occasion, IIS invited three speakers, which are: Diah Kusumaningrum, International Relations Professor at Universitas Gadjah Mada and researcher at IIS UGM, Ihsan Ali Fauzi, representative of Centre for the Study of Religion and Democracy (PUSAD) Paramadina, and Puri Kencana Putri, representative of Accenture Malaysia and ex-journalist for KontraS. This session was moderated by Cut Intan Auliannisa Isma, Manager of IIS UGM.

Diah started the discussion by explaining the background of the Damai Pangkal Damai initiative, a project aiming to create a database of nonviolent actions in Indonesia during the Reform era. The team, also involving students’ role, has successfully compiled 14.023 nonviolent actions in Indonesia during the reform era. It is hoped that the database would assist actors who are willing to involve themselves in nonviolent actions, including students, indigenous communities, or even journalists who are eager to learn about peaceful journalism. Additionally, Diah also hopes that the government and the police would learn nonviolent principles and implement those in daily life whilst also strengthening democracy in Indonesia. The DPD team believes that the most crucial culture in democracy is conducting contestations whilst implementing nonviolent principles.

The session is then continued by discussing the report’s content. It is hoped that the report would act as a document that can be used in reflecting and learning about nonviolent actions in Indonesia during the Reform era, as it was launched on World Day of Social Justice. The report is divided into several essential parts, starting with an executive summary. Diah stated that in 2020, nonviolent methods of actions were widely adopted in various movements around the world, starting from Indonesia, the US, Tunisia, Hong Kong, and many others–all of which can be categorized in Gene SHarp’s 198 methods of nonviolent action. This proved that the pandemic does not end the mobilization of nonviolent actions in the world; instead, it makes nonviolent action increasingly more important than before.

The COVID-19 pandemic does not diminish the mobilization of nonviolent actions. Instead, it introduces new actors in nonviolent action, such as KPop fans, middle-class white American women, and even war veterans. Other than that, the intensity of actions in various places are also increasing, and they become objects of solidarity and transnational learning. Unfortunately, in some cases, nonviolent actions are often appropriated by right-wing movements, such as anti-mask and anti-vaccine protests and even white supremacist campaigns. It is also regrettable how in many cases, nonviolent actions also receive repression from the state. In her closing statement, Diah advocates for the normalization of nonviolent actions as a part of democratic culture and it should not be met with repression.

Furthermore, the second speaker continued the session, Ihsan, who articulated his appreciation towards the DPD database. Ihsan stated that the database supports nonviolent studies in Indonesia and is a significant and great output from campus. Ihsan also supports students’ involvement in the research process, and he hopes that other universities in Indonesia would use the database. However, Ihsan also expressed a few challenges that the DPD team will face in the future, including continuity and media partnership. So far, the database has only been used by one media (KOMPAS) as a data resource. Ihsan hopes that the DPD team and IIS could pick an alternative partner other than Kompas in the future.

Lastly, Ihsan expressed his concerns about the shifting of the arena from offline to online. Ihsan emphasized that there is a possibility that those who previously actively participated in nonviolent actions have become disengaged because of the pandemic and state repression. Are the new players in online nonviolent actions stop the participation of previous players? Do the participation of online activists stop at clicking their gadgets, or do they go beyond that? How does civil society respond to the online presence of the state through buzzers and influencers? Lastly, Ihsan also stresses that the report also needs to write about the defeat that nonviolent actions experience.

As the last speaker, Putri also expressed her appreciation for the work the DPD team does, she also hopes that many actors in the society could widely use the output of the DPD team. Besides, Putri presented her materials, titled “Digital Authoritarianism” or “Otoritarianisme Digital”, as an input for the DPD team in conducting their future research. Digital authoritarianism becomes more apparent during the pandemic, marked by the government’s collaboration with right-wing movements. Those right-wing groups often involve themselves in advocating voices that are not in line with civil society’s voices; their involvement also indirectly hinders criticism against the government. Furthermore, cases in the US show that the state also involves espionage, digital surveillance, and even intervention in elections. In practice, the state’s digital authoritarianism threatens freedom of expression in the digital sphere.

The forum is closed with a discussion session that involves both the speakers and the participants, which went very well.

Writer : Raditya Bomantara

Editor : Mariola Yansverio

It’s Time to Rethink Jakarta’s Water Governance

As if the COVID-19 crisis is not enough, Jakarta is now also facing another flood catastrophe. Most recently, flooding affected around 200 neighborhood units (RT) and forced more than 1,000 people to evacuate their homes.

Indonesia is currently facing a series of disasters including floods, landslides, whirlwinds and extreme droughts in some parts of the country. According to the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB), the number of disasters has nearly tripled in the past five years from around 1,664 in 2015 to 3,023 in 2020.

Of course the usual culprit of these disasters is climate change, which according to Prof. Edvin Aldrian of the Agency for the Assessment and Application of Technology (BPPT) is caused by environmental changes and degradation within and without the country.

While it is not untrue, there is more than meets the eye: it is the failure of urban water planning and governance which has contributed to Jakarta’s persistent flooding. Overlooking the root causes will not only undermine the deeper issue, but also shift the attention to quick and temporary technological fixes that only exacerbate the environmental catastrophe.

The flooding in Jakarta this year was timely as Vox, a US media outlet, published a video report on Jakarta’s environmental crisis, which has caused the city to sink as fast as 25 centimeters annually. The report associates this crisis with Dutch-inherited segregated water infrastructure, massive groundwater exploitation and rapid urban development leading to a proliferation of concrete that prevents rainwater from replenishing water lost from the city’s aquifer layers.

These issues, however, cannot be solved with simple technological fixes. Rather they require a rearrangement of water governance that has proven to have failed to provide equal and sustainable access to the city’s population.

This failure is evident in three aspects: the exclusion of the urban poor from the governance process, the blurry lines between rights and responsibilities of the stakeholders, and the elite-centric decision-making process.

In an effort to do so, we can start by rethinking our water governance approach that currently focuses on the centralized water infrastructure to also incorporate a variety of everyday water practices. These have been chosen by people either because they are excluded from the network or because their access is limited due to the weak water pressure, or the unreliable and low-quality supply of the available network.

The reality of water governance in Jakarta is not reflected in the networked infrastructure that only covers 65 percent of the population with the majority of customers coming from middle to lower income households. Considering service unreliability that is not consistent with constant tariff increases, even those who are connected also fulfill their water needs either from groundwater, rainwater harvesting or bottled water.

According to the report from Amrta Institute, more than 60 percent of the city’s water needs are fulfilled by groundwater, which serves nearly two-thirds of the city’s water consumption, or around 630 million cubic metre out of 1 billion m3/year.

Unfortunately, the discussion on Jakarta’s water governance has been biased toward the centralized infrastructure, which is problematic for three main reasons. First, it reinforces a legacy of the colonial government water development planning, which is socially and geographically fragmented. This has inherently prevented the urban poor, especially those who live in informal settlements, from both accessing the piped water infrastructure and participating in the governance process.

Second, centralized piped water infrastructure is often used as a justification for private sector participation due the government’s lack of capacity to fund capital costs. However, as evident in Jakarta, neither public nor private operators have successfully ensured adequate and sustainable water service provision for the population, even those who adhere to pro-poor initiatives.

Lastly, the focus on centralized infrastructure promotes the development of big-infrastructural projects as a band-aid for the environmental catastrophe while neglecting the underlying issue of water governance failure. For example, the construction of a USD$40 billion giant sea wall to prevent seawater from overflowing into the already sinking city does not address the underlying problems and often comes at a cost of forced eviction of many informal settlements which burdens the already excluded urban poor.

Thus, there is a need to look beyond the networked water infrastructure by considering everyday water practices in which people interact within and outside the centralized infrastructure. Such practices include buying water from neighbors, collecting water from public stand-pipes, purchasing from pushcart vendors and extracting groundwater from shallow or deep wells.

Looking at these everyday practices will allow us to unveil the different manifestations of water inequalities in terms of distribution, recognition and participation. For example, research by Kooy and Furlong in 2018 found that over-abstraction of groundwater in rich neighborhoods has led to salinization of shallow groundwater and land-subsidence in poor neighborhoods, exposing the urban poor to higher risk of flooding and poorer water quality.

Equally important, paying attention to everyday water practices will not only allow us to understand the different manifestations of urban water inequality but also enable us to capture local knowledge and practices that have been filling the gap left by the centralized water infrastructure. This will counter the disempowering image of the urban poor as a passive recipient or victim of Jakarta’s unequal water governance.

This article does not seek to diminish the importance of centralized piped water infrastructure or the urgency for people to be connected to a piped water source, instead it seeks to highlight the need to look beyond the centralized network in order to develop a more holistic understanding of Jakarta’s water governance.

Hopefully, this will lead to the creation of an inclusive and sustainable urban water governance that allows for more equitable access to water, increasing recognition and larger space for participation especially for marginalized communities including the poor in informal settlements, women, migrants and the disabled.


This article has been published by the Jakarta Post and can also be accessed via the following link: https://www.thejakartapost.com/paper/2021/02/26/its-time-to-rethink-jakartas-water-governance.html

Writer : Marwa

Editor : Angganararas Indriyosanti

[RECAP] Regional Colloquium on Middle East : The Arabaian and Israelian Peace: In Sought of a Trace, Instigating Advancement

On Monday (14/02), Institute of International Studies, Universitas Gadjah Mada (IIS UGM) conducted the second rendition of Regional Colloquium since its first edition in 2018. In this edition, Regional Colloquium adopted the Middle East as the discussion’s pivotal focus, under the theme “Post-Trump Middle East: Geopolitical Issues in the Middle East amidst the abdication of President Donald Trump”. With the focus in scrutinizing the implications of Joe Biden as the newly elected president of the United States towards the peace in the Middle East, and within this opportunity IIS UGM invited 4 speakers, During the first panel session, IIS UGM cordially invited Prof. Dr. Bambang Cipto (professor at Universitas Muhammadiyah Yogyakarta), and Dr. Nur Rachmat Yuliantoro (lecturer at the Department of International Relations UGM), who discusses on the extrapolation of US’s foreign policy towards the Middle East during the presidential term of Joe Biden.

The first session was opened by Muhammad Indrawan Jatmika (Research staff for IISUGM) as the moderator, and commenced by Prof. Bambang Cipto that presented on “US’s interest in the Middle East”. Prof. Cipto remarks, that the primary interest of the United States in the Midlle East is to defend the existence and to secure Israel’s interest within the region, as Israel is of US’s paramount importance in extending US’s reach in the region. The significant influence of the Jewish lobby in the US, viz., the AIPAC asserts a safeguard measure that any elected president should defend and endorses the existence of Israel form any external threats in the Middle East. As the “Golden Child” of the US, Israel profits from the considerable amount of foreign aid directed by the United States, in which Israel utilizes to realize the superiority of its military might in the region. Notwitstanding, the US’s support to Israel can be reflected in the UN, wherein Israel invariably holds a potent position due to US’s support. As a closing remark, Prof. Cipto exclaimed that the US under Biden’s presidency are more presumptively to defend its sphere of influence in the Middle East via Israel, despite of the consideration to alter its previous US’s foreign policy.

“Principled but Pragmatic: The Prognosis of Joe Biden’s Foreign Policy in the Middle East” is the title of Dr. Nur Rachmat Yuliantoro’s presentation during the second session of the first panel. Dr. Rachmat scrutinize on the obstruction that needs to be considered by Biden in maneuvering its approach in the Middle East, that is stipulated by Biden as one of the most significant regions in one of his writings “Why America must lead again: Rescuing US Foreign Policy After Trump”. Biden scopes that the US is no longer a global leader, hence Biden aspires to revise US’s foreign policy as a means to reclaim US’s position as a global leader. Albeit, in considering the Middle East ,it is imperative for Biden to crystalize US’s arrangement in tackling the probable threats that may materials, videlicet: (1) US’s approach towards Iran, (2) determining US’s deportment towards Turkey, (3) devising and exercising a suitable policy towards the endorsement of a broader democratic and political participation in the region, (4) acting as a stronghold for “an equal” and peaceful agreement that stresses over the interest of Palestine, and (5) devising an “acceptable” resolution that is profusely ingrained in the Yemen Crises, the Syrian Civil War, and the instability in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In the second panel, under the theme of geopolitics and contemporary peace in the Middle East, IIS invited Dr. Siti Mutiah Setiawati (lecturer at the Department of International Relations UGM), and Dr. Nur Munir, (Director of Islamic and Middle Eastern Research Center, Universitas Indonesia). Dr. Siti Mutiah initiated the session by delivering on the significance of geopolitics within the Palestinian grounds, which frequently becomes the root of instability and conflict in the region. According to the Arabian community, Palestinian grounds is considered to be a land that they have inhabited circa 60 AD, not to mention as the third holy land in Islam, which is the religion adopted by the majority of the Arabs. Conversely, Palestine holds an intrinsic significance for the Jewish community, as the Palestinian grounds is considered to be as “the promised land” by God for the Jews, ergo there is no compromisation for the land of Palestine. The contrast of values and beliefs between the two aforementioned communities fosters continuous conflict within the land of Palestine. Inasmuch, since 1973, the inception of a wave of diplomatic ties between the Arabic states and Israel starts to be institutionalized, which consequently disperses the notion of Pan-Arabism. This wave emerges in 1978 by Egypt, continued by Jordan in 1994, and recently by United Arab Emirates and Bahrain in 2020.

In the last session, Drs. Nur Munir delivered the last presentation on “Road Path Towards the Future of Jerusalem According to the view of the State of Israel: Academic search to Find a Proper Political Standing of the Republic of Indonesia to Contribute in making a Better World”. Drs. Nur Munir excerts Israel’s scope regarding the significance of Palestinian grounds, notably the city of Jerusalem as one of the guiding underpinnings of Israel’s policy. Drs. Nur Munir postulates, that in order to achieve peace and stability in the Middle East, it is imperative to have a comprehensive cognizance over the significance of Palestinian grounds towards the Jews and Israel, as there are some compatible and incompatible measures that goes in congruence to Arabic Islam’s interest. Ergo, the contemporary conflict in Palestine cannot be solely espied as an Arabic political issue, nevertheless as a political issue of the Islamic world as a whole. Drs. Nur Munir concludes that this form of contemplation is needed in Indonesia, due to its active commitment in supporting conflict resolution and the independence of Palestine, which is ingrained in paragraph 1 and 4 of Indonesia’s State Constitution and its free and active foreign policy.

Writer : Raditya Bomantara

Editor : Handono Ega P.

[RECAP] Beyond The Great Wall #12 : China 2020: Flashbacks and Future Challenges

On Friday (11/12), Institute of International Studies Universitas Gadjah Mada (IIS UGM) organized another discussion forum, the 12th and the last Beyond the Great Wall (BTGW) of 2020. This forum discussed “China 2020: Flashbacks and Future Challenges”. Speaking were Arum Dyah Rinjani (fresh graduate of Department of International Relations Universitas Mataram), Lazarus Andja Karunia (part-time staff for Direktorat Riset Industri UGM), and Dr. Nur Rachmat Yuliantoro (lecturer at Department of International Relations UGM).

Arum Dyah Rinjani commenced the forum with her presentation on “Maritime Environmental Security: Implications of Nine-dash Line Claims on Maritime Environmental Degradation in South China Sea”. China’s nine-dash line claims steered several Chinese policies on the territory, causing a handful of maritime conflicts. From 2009-2016, 8.795 news on maritime conflicts were released, in contrast with mere 25 on maritime environmental security and resource protection in the area.

While most of China’s activities in SCS relate to maritime security, at least two of them contributed to severe environmental degradation: land reclamation and overfishing. China has been doing land reclamation since 2013, making up 3.200 ha of artificial island. The activity destroyed reefs, increased muddiness, released harmful chemicals, created sedimentary sands which killed underwater organisms, and inflicted several destructions beyond repair. Meanwhile, China used large ships, dangerous substances, and heavy equipment in fishing. China’s overfishing caused decrease in fish stocks and catches, endangered biodiversity, harmed reefs, and sparked clashes with other countries. Ecologically, the phenomenon made one of the worst overfishing and reef degradation records in history. It is 99% China’s fault, Arum claimed.

Lazarus Andja continued with discussions on “Great Peek Forward: How Surveillance Technology Shaped China’s Response Towards Coronavirus”. By surveillance, Andja meant structured observation. China has frequently utilized surveillance technology, even prior to the pandemic. There were at least 2.58 million cameras in Chongqing used to observe 15.35 million people, particularly for law enforcement and automatic response for violations through the social credit system. The same was also done in Xinjiang to supervise people and limit mobility. However, surveillance was still localized and yet to reach national scale.

To better understand the case, Andja used the post-panoptic surveillance concept. It means the use of several separate surveillance tools which, at the end, will consolidate into one strategy. Post-panoptic surveillance is not limited to physical institutions like schools, prisons, and factories, hence the lack of awareness of the object while being observed. Moreover, it is used not to control, but to discipline. Three aspects make up post-panoptic surveillance: surveillant assemblage, deterritorialization, and reassembly.

Surveillant assemblage means the tools used to execute surveillance. In China, it includes color coding, drones, social credit system, and social media supervision. Alipay Health Code uses color coding to indicate different health levels in Hangzhou to limit mobility. People in Hangzhou can only go to green-coded areas in the app. Travelling to yellow areas will end up with requirement of one-week quarantine, while visit to red areas require two-week quarantine. Moreover, drones function to assist observation and give out reminders to obey health protocols. Failure to obey will result in deduction of social credit points, while good deeds—i.e. serving as front-liner health workers—will be rewarded with extra points. The more points one has, the more social opportunities will be available. In addition, the government uses social media surveillance to sensor critics and rebellious acts through keyword filtering.

Deterritorialization is data gathering from physical space and creation of individual data doubles. In deterritorializing, the government partnered with at least four parties: (1) with Alibaba who assisted data gathering regarding individual health risk; (2) with Baidu’s AI technology Intelligent Changsan which processes citizen reports by phone; (3) with SkyNet who assisted the police through CCTV observation; (4) and with MicroMultiCopter which supplied 100 drones to 11 cities.

Lastly, reassembly is the process of gathering data doubles in accordance with the need of users. In China, amongst the various users are the war room (which is the center of city and village level supervision), the central government, and the police. That said, the people’s biggest fear is surveillance creep or data abuse by the authorities.

Dr. Nur Rachmat Yuliantoro delivered the last presentation on “Technology and Daily Lives of the Chinese: Is It Convenience, Fear, or Something Else?”. He showed different pictures (some of them taken directly by him) to show changes in daily conduct supported by the advancement of technology in China. The first picture exhibits a street merchant in China providing a barcode as means of payment, indicating China’s progress towards a cashless society. The second picture showcased wireless charging facilities in lamp posts across Wuhan.

The next picture captured Meituan Dianping app—similar to Gojek, providing several services in one platform—and Ele.Me—which delivers food with drones—that facilitates convenience for Chinese people. However, as much as it is efficient, the existence of these digital convenience sparked protests from partner restaurants because of its high fee. There’s also growing concerns of data abuse.

Moreover, technology allows everyone to easily access many services and do many things through mobile phones, including livestreaming features. Nonetheless, again, such convenience brings new concerns: recently, there was a man in China who got imprisoned after exposing personal data of a woman recently infected by COVID-19 following club visits. Nowadays, China also adopts face recognition technology that is advanced enough to identify masked faces.

While all the hi-tech tools mentioned above accommodate comfort and efficiency, they also pose obstacles to certain groups of the society, in particular the elderly.

Writer : Denise Michelle

Editor : Medisita Febrina

[RECAP] Annual Convention on The Global South: Global South in the Era of Pandemic: Order, Development and Security

Welcoming remarks by Dr. Riza Noer Arfani, Director of Institute of International Studies Universitas Gadjah Mada, marked the beginning of Annual Convention on the Global South/GO SOUTH 2020. This year’s GO-SOUTH brought up the theme of “Global South in the Era of Pandemic: Order, Development and Security”. The event ran for five days from 2nd to 6th of November 2020 and was divided into conference (2 & 3 November 2020) and panel discussion (4-6 November 2020). The opening ceremony continues with keynote speech delivered by H.E Febrian Alphyanto Ruddyard, Director General of Multilateral Cooperation of Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on behalf of the Indonesian Minister of Foreign Affairs, H. E. Retno Marsudi.

Dr. Randy Wirasta Nandyatama (lecturer in International Relations Department of Universitas Gadjah Mada) moderated the discussion on the first day of the conference. Three speakers were present, Dr. Farish A Noor (Associate Professor of Rajatnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University), Siswo Pramono (Head of Policy Research and Development, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia) and Shahar Hameiri (Associate Professor, School of Political Science and International Studies, University of Queensland, Australia).

Farish began the session with his presentation on how South East Asian older generations have faced and succeeded overcoming past crises. Farish believed that this generation will certainly go past the COVID-19 crisis and overcome it, as every generation has their own experiences with crisis and undoubtedly finds solutions to tackle them. Still speaking on crisis, Siswo elaborated on Indonesia’s effort in developing bilateral and multilateral cooperation to overcome COVID-induced problems. Wrapping up the first day of the conference, Shahar challenged the foundation of global governance. He argued that the shift from government to governance and regulatory statehood in 1970s caused the current failure in tackling the virus, both at national and international level.

On the second day of the conference, IIS UGM invited three speakers, namely H.E Salman Al Farisi (Ambassador of the Republic of Indonesia for South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini and Lesotho), Drs. Muhadi Sugiono (lecturer in International Relations Department, Universitas Gadjah Mada) and Dr. Heloise Weber (lecturer in School of Political Science and International Studies, University of Queensland). Dr. Luqman nul Hakim (lecturer in International Relations Department, Universitas Gadjah Mada) moderated the discussion.

H.E Salman opened the second day session by delivering his speech on “The Shifting Dynamics in Africa: Indonesia’s Foreign Policy Towards the Struggling Region”. He elaborated on various Indonesia-African countries cooperation efforts, including the ones aimed at COVID-19 mitigation, namely global cooperation on vaccine development. Muhadi continued the session discussing “Covid-19 in the Perspective of Global Divide”. He explained that the global south was faced with different problems amidst the pandemic, namely: (1) zero sum policy dilemma, in which countries need to choose between priorities of public health or the economy; (2) political instability; (3) and weak bargaining position in accessing health supplies compared to northern countries. Lastly, Heloise delivered her speech on “Politics of Development and Injustices”. She brought up issues of inequality and injustice experienced by the marginalized, specifically in the context of COVID pandemic. The end of Heloise’ presentation marked the end of the conference session of GO SOUTH 2020.

IIS UGM organized four different panels in the span of three days, inviting paper presenters from local and foreign universities to elaborate on their research. On the third day, four papers discussing “National, Transnational and Regional Dynamics of the Global South in Addressing Global Pandemics” were presented in the panel, moderated by M. Indrawan Jatmika (researcher at IIS UGM).

The second panel was held the next day under the theme of “Addressing New Non Traditional Securities”. Muhammad Rum (lecturer at International Relations Department, Universitas Gadjah Mada) moderated the discussion for all three papers presented. Also held on the fourth day, the third panel discussing “Pandemic and Crafting the Global Solidarity of the Global South” presented three papers, moderated by Muhadi Sugiono (lecturer at International Relations Department, Universitas Gadjah Mada). The last panel on the fifth day presented four papers examining the theme of “Pandemic and the Changing Global Political Economy of the Global South”, moderated by Irfan Ardhani (lecturer at International Relations Department, Universitas Gadjah Mada). The end of the last panel discussion marked the end of the Annual Convention on The Global South 2020: Global South in the Era of Pandemic: Order, Development and Security.

[RECAP] Beyond the Great Wall #11: The Rise and Future of China’s Power Projection

On 20 November 2020, Institute of International Studies Universitas Gadjah Mada organized its 11th edition of Beyond the Great Wall via Zoom discussing “The Rise and Future of China’s Power Projection”. Invited in the forum were Angelo Wijaya, founder of Student Association of Belt and Road Initiative (SABRI) Chapter UGM and Demas Nauvarian, a international relations graduate student in Universitas Airlangga.Angelo presented his review of the book Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides’s Trap, while Demas delivered his presentation discussing “The Evolution of Chinese Geostrategic Thinking and Strategic Culture: From Sea Power to Space Power.” Indrawan Jatmika, researcher for IIS UGM, helped moderate the discussion.

Angelo began his review stating that in the near future, China is going to become the number one strongest power in the world as its economy will rise in 2024, even topping the US. Such potential certainly becomes a threat to the US, hence the US’ tendencies to disagree and contend with China, and eventually waging the trade war. The book Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides’ Trap attempts to complement Thucydides’ argument in his legendary tale The Peloponnesian War. Graham Allison, the author of the book, introduces the term “Thucydides’ trap” to describe the tendency to wage war when a new power emerges to replace existing ones. The argument is not entirely correct as, in reality, not all countries have such tendency.

One question, then, emerges: will China and the US be able to survive the Thucydides’ trap? Angelo laid out a few points that the US needs to pay close attention to. First, they need to reconsider and clarify their vital interests. In this case, is the South China Sea dispute of top priority? Moreover, they need to examine more closely what the Chinese are doing, particularly in regards to its foreign policy. They will, then, need to proceed with the strategies—which, in its formulation, should consider conditions at the macro level—accordingly. Lastly, domestic challenges should also be taken into consideration in the formulation of foreign policy. Said challenges include the matter of trust given by domestic institutions, social political system, and the general public.

Angelo wrapped up his speech with a call to perceive China’s rise holistically; basically, China’s rise also caters to the US interest. “In its path to becoming a new power, it’s wise to recall this quote from the Spiderman movie, with a great power comes greater responsibility,” Angelo said.

The second session focused on China’s rarely discussed space and naval power. In explaining China’s grand strategy to harmonize their power instruments, Demas showcased that there were two approaches the Chinese use: (1) the geostrategic—prioritizing geographic factors—and military approach; (2) the strategic cultural approach which deals with geographic and historic aspects as means to achieve welfare. Just as every country prioritizes certain issues in the purpose of increasing their power, China prioritizes its naval sector.

Speaking on naval strategy, Demas explained that two theoretical approaches could be utilized in examining a state’s classical sea power. First, the Mahan approach believes that naval strategy ought to focus on navy modernization. Hence, use of the navy, strength, and sea control constitute the most important factors. The second approach, Corbett’s maritime strategy, highlights the need to combine land and sea factors to control the sea. Military and civil elements, land and sea power, as well as sea command are crucial. Since adopting the naval sector strategy, China repeatedly used different approaches in accordance to its ever-changing leadership goals. As of now, China’s strategy focuses on defending what they own and claiming on whatever they don’t. The strategy explicitly exhibits how China tends to be assertive in border issues, most importantly in the South China Sea dispute.

Meanwhile, Demas argued that China’s space strategy depends on its maritime strategy. Currently, the Chinese space force is focusing on various cooperation efforts with other countries for development. While its gradually rising space force seemingly threatens western countries, it is important to note that China’s strategies in achieving its goals always differ with that of the west’. In its strategy formulation, China perceives the world in two different ways. One way is through the lens of Confucianism which avoids use of military means to fulfill national goals. Another way is the realist para bellum perspective which believes that the nature of international politics is anarchic, hence the need to wage war. China sees from both perspectives in arranging its grand strategy of space and naval power.


[RECAP] Beyond The Great Wall #10 : China: Initiatives in Energy and Transportation

On Friday (18/9), Institute of International Studies/IIS UGM organized another edition of its bimonthly discussion forum Beyond the Great Wall/BTGW online. In its tenth edition, present were Alfin Febrian Basundoro, Vice President of UPII UGM and Caesar Leonardo, Director of Student Association of Belt and Road Initiative/SABRI UGM Chapter. Under the theme “China: Initiatives in Energy and Transportation”, the two speakers spoke on China’s dynamics in developing the two sectors which boost the growth of Chinese economy, namely energy and transportation.

Alfin began the first session by delivering his presentation on “New Eurasian Land Bridge: China’s Railroad Sector Expansion”. The railroad sector has long been serving as the backbone of the Chinese economy, in which all provinces in China had been linked via railway by 2007. With a total 140,000 km of railway, the massive rail network supports provision of rapid trains for millions of citizens and names China the country with the longest rapid train network in the world. Besides domestic development, regional cooperation realized through New Eurasian Land Bridge also supported China’s railroad expansion.

New Eurasian Land Bridge/NELB is a rail-based corridor linking China, Central Asia and Eastern Europe. As part of the Belt and Road Initiative, this program is an implementation of the modern silk road aimed at supporting intercontinental economic activities via Central Asia. Compared to the sea route which is relatively longer and takes more time to pass, land route is ultimately a better alternative. Moreover, land route allows better movements of commodities as trains are able to carry more cargo compared to planes.  Since its first operation in 2011, NELB saw significant increase in traffic every year and has been playing an important role linking two continents and promoting Chinese-European investment.

Alfin claimed that NELB benefited both parties; however, to achieve such benefits, it needs to face challenges ahead. To China, NELB promises effectivity, as well as ease of transportation and movement of commodity; bolsters increase in trade with European countries; and supports diversification of commodities exported. To Eurasian countries, NELB guarantees new free trade zone in Central Asia, Eurasian interconnectivity, and connection to other European economic corridors. On the other hand, NELB needs to overcome several obstacles, ranging from differences in railway width, imbalanced infrastructure, political conditions of related countries, to lack of human resource standardization.

He concluded that NELB is of paramount importance to China’s long-running railroad expansion. Not only does NELB serves China’s interests, but also it supports Central Asian development by providing effective distribution route to accelerate movement of commodities from two continents. No wonder NELB is one of the five priority programs of China’s in Central Asia.

Leo delivered the second session discussing “Chinese Nuclear Energy Initiatives”. Similar with that of transportation, the energy sector is central for the growth of modern Chinese economy. Nuclear development, initiated by Mao Zedong, began in 1950s and was limited to nuclear as mere weapons. Under Deng Xiaoping, nuclear was perceived as more of an alternative energy source through his program of “four modernizations” as one of the answers to the question of Chinese energy security. Qinshan nuclear reactor, then, became China’s first and started operation in 1991. Its establishment commenced the era of Chinese progressive nuclear energy development, which is expected to surpass American and European reactor energy export by 2035.

According to Leo, China preferred nuclear energy to other alternative sources due to several advantages. Nuclear emits less emission compared to fossil fuel because of its high material efficiency. Moreover, nuclear-generated electricity is relatively affordable compared to that from fossil fuel or solar panel. Politics-wise, western countries already left nuclear behind and started seeking other safer alternatives. Hence, China has the opportunity to lead the global nuclear energy development industry.

China’s nuclear orientation experienced a significant shift. As Leo mentioned, under Deng, China developed nuclear for the sake of domestic energy security. Hence, China cooperated with other nuclear-experienced countries like France and the US. To tackle the problem of limited resources, China also imported uranium from African countries to secure supply. Now, as China has achieved domestic energy security and possessed enough experiences in developing nuclear energy, it prepares itself to become a producer who promotes nuclear energy use to others. BRI supports such shift by giving space for China to initiate cooperation with other countries in developing their own nuclear industries.

Leo wrapped up his presentation by showcasing a number of future challenges China needs to face in developing its nuclear. First, there is an existing doubt in developing nuclear due to security problems like reactor leaks in Chernobyl and Fukushima, as well as issues of radioactive waste. Second, other alternative energy sources are more popular. Top fossil fuel industries like Total preferred to invest in solar panels or air turbins compared to nuclear. Third, China’s domestic politics still prefer fossil fuel. The government favors fossil that dominates domestic industrial use, despite the chance of being a global pioneer in nuclear development. All three problems, Leo believes, are the hindrances China has to overcome in the future of nuclear energy development.

[RECAP] 75 Years Too Long: Ending the Age of Nuclear Weapons Through the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

On Saturday, 15 August 2020, Institute of International Studies UGM, in collaboration with the International Committee of the Red Cross/ICRC and the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons/ICAN, organized a webinar titled “75 Years Too Long: Ending the Age of Nuclear Weapons through the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons” as a part of the “75th Anniversary of the Atomic Bombing Series”. Speaking on the webinar were Tim Wright, Campaign Coordinator for ICAN, and Christian Donny Putranto, legal advisor for ICRC; moderated by Muhadi Sugiono, a lecturer of Department of International Relations UGM and also a campaigner for ICAN.

The first speaker, Christian Donny Putranto, explained the correlation between nuclear weapons and international humanitarian law. Intrigued by the severe humanitarian repercussions of the Hiroshima-Nagasaki bombing, ICRC invited the members of Geneva Convention 1946 to develop a treaty regulating the use of nuclear weapons in 1950. Seventy years since the initiative was brought up, plenty of legal instruments regarding nuclear weapons have been formalized. However, all of them remain as partial bans. Some only regulate the proliferation aspect of them, while the others prohibit testing on specific locations (like the sea or earth/moon orbits). To this day, there hasn’t been a single treaty that possesses the power to fully ban nuclear weapons worldwide.

In fact, when observed through the lens of international humanitarian law, the use of nuclear weapons violates the principles of: (1) distinction, as the weapon is unable to distinguish civilians from combatants when launching attacks; (2) proportionality, since nuclear weapons cause disproportionately large damage compared to its initial military objective; (3) precautions, due to its nature of causing unnecessary suffering. Unfortunately, despite causing an endless cycle of suffering, international humanitarian law hasn’t specifically regulated the use of nuclear weapons. At the end of his presentation, Donny asked all parties to prioritize humanity above all else in this matter. He wrapped up with an important reflection: that weapons risking catastrophic humanitarian consequences can’t possibly be viewed as providing people security.

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The next speaker, Tim Wright from ICAN, demonstrated the urgency of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons/TPNW. According to him, there are 30,000 existing nuclear weapons up to this day. This is disheartening, considering its detrimental impact on many aspects of human lives, including migration crisis, declining climate condition, famine caused by disruption of agriculture production, and direct physical damage on survivors. Currently, there is only one treaty which can be devised to abolish the weapon, which is the TPNW.

TPNW was formalized in 2017 to oversee the total abolition and discontinuation of nuclear weapons development, including pre-existing ones. The Treaty fully bans nuclear weapons, meaning there is no single circumstance under which nuclear weapons are allowed to be deployed nor developed. To date, 122 countries have signed the treaty, with only 44 of them having ratified it. The Treaty needs another six ratifications to enter into force.

The belief in the deterrence effect of nuclear weapons remains a major obstacle for countries to sign or ratify the Treaty. Tim argued that the most effective way to counter this paradigm is to burden nuclear-armed countries with negative stigma.

Specifically speaking on Indonesia’s role in TPNW, Tim reckoned that the government needs to ratify the treaty as a concrete action to abolish nuclear weapons. As a member of the Non-Bloc Movement, Indonesia has been actively expressing its concerns about nuclear weapons as a threat to humanity at international fora. Yet, Tim believed Indonesia still has room to enhance its participation in talking about the morality of the weapons. Most importantly, Indonesia needs to ratify the Treaty to deem it legitimate and finally free the world from nuclear threat.

Penulis : Brigitta Kalina Tristani Hernawan

Penyunting : Medisita Febrina