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  • Author or Editor: Alvin Camba x
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This chapter examines the changing degrees of influence of the US and China in Indonesia by considering the influence of a third power, Japan. It argues that Indonesia is hedging against the US–China strategic competition, leveraging Japanese capital to attain greater benefits in the negotiations of Chinese capital and carefully detach Indonesia from US influence. First, through the Jakarta–Bandung high-speed railway, the chapter shows how Indonesia attained a better deal from China by leveraging Japan’s initial proposal. Second, it illustrates that the government has consistently followed Japan’s position to hedge against the US-led Freedom of Navigation Operations. Both cases illuminate how Indonesia has relied on Japan’s influence to carve out new state spaces in response to US–China strategic competition. This chapter ultimately demonstrates that, although US–China competition establishes parameters of action for other states, it does not determine outcomes. Jakarta’s project-specific hedging strategies in the context of the US–China rivalry demonstrate that it enjoys a measure of agency that can be translated into the achievement of spatial objectives.

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This chapter discusses how elites in the Duterte administration (2016 onwards) have carved out new state spaces amid intensified US–China geostrategic competition and the expansion of the BRI in the Philippines. While observers argue that Duterte represents a distinct ‘pro-China’ faction, this chapter instead suggests that the country’s recent shifts in foreign economic policy are the result of competing political, economic, and military coalitions that collectively underpin a convoluted geopolitical approach towards US and China. Beyond Duterte’s immediate role, this account draws attention to a broader constellation of actors and conflicts behind the country’s management of the BRI and geopolitics in general. In the context of US–China competition, Philippine elites are pursuing longstanding political, economic, and spatial objectives through state restructuring. The first case in the chapter illustrates how Philippine economic managers shifted their infrastructure strategy from a market-oriented approach leaning heavily on public–private partnerships (PPPs) to a hybridized usage of PPPs and foreign funding. The second case shows that elites within the Philippine military, particularly the Coast Guard, leveraged Duterte’s (d)alliance with China to expand their jurisdiction and capacity. In sum, the chapter illustrates that host states restructure in the context of US–China competition in accordance with the interests of elite coalitions, illustrating the heterogeneity of powers and interests in the host country.

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