A professor of international law at the University of Indonesia said on Thursday (13/04) United States Vice President Mike Pence should cancel his visit to the country, citing President Donald Trump's recent foreign policy initiatives. (Reuters Photo/Joshua Roberts)

US Vice President Mike Pence Should Cancel Visit to Indonesia: Expert

BY :SHEANY

APRIL 13, 2017

Jakarta. A professor of international law at the University of Indonesia said on Thursday (13/04) that United States Vice President Mike Pence should cancel his visit to the country, citing President Donald Trump's recent foreign policy initiatives.

In a press release received by Jakarta Globe, Hikmahanto Juwana addressed some key reasons why Pence should forego his scheduled visit to the Southeast Asian nation.

The professor pointed to the recent US missile strike in Syria, as well as to Trump’s executive order banning citizens of several Muslim-majority countries from traveling to the United States, as decisive factors.

Hikmahanto noted that Trump's policies contradict Indonesia's moral values and would put President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's government in an awkward position.

Pence is scheduled to visit Indonesia later this month, as part of his first international tour to the region.

US ambassador Joseph R. Donovan Jr. said in a statement that Pence’s visit reflects the United States' commitment to deepening economic engagement and boosting regional security cooperation with Indonesia.

"We have a responsibility to each other and to the world to continue our cooperation [...] to improve economic opportunities for our citizens, and to help ensure a secure and stable region which supports our economic ambitions," Donovan said on Tuesday, according to a statement released by the US Embassy in Jakarta.

In March, Trump issued an executive order seeking a comprehensive review in trade imbalances with sixteen countries, including Indonesia.

"Indonesia was categorized as one of the countries who cheated on the United States in international trade – this is unacceptable," Hikmahanto said.

According to the professor, it is unfair for the United States to investigate possible trade imbalances through a one-sided executive order, especially in light of the fact that both countries are members of the World Trade Organization, an organization that typically resolves such matters.

Strategic partnerships between Indonesia and the United States stem back to December 1949, when the former won its independence from the Netherlands. Ever since, cooperation between the world's third- and fourth-largest nations have seen a steady increase, especially in maritime, defense, economic and energy relations.

However, Trump's administration has given off mixed signals in terms of its commitment to building stronger relations with the archipelago nation.

In January, Trump issued an executive order withdrawing that country from Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal after former US President Barack Obama courted other nations to join it, including Indonesia.

Though Donovan has continued to express positive signs for future relations between both countries, US foreign policy under the current administration continues to prompt skepticism from the international community.

Even so, Donovan said that his country has supported, and will continue to support, Indonesia’s economic development through programs such as the United States Agency for International Development and the Millennium Challenge Corporation compact, which focuses on inclusive economic growth, elimination of contagious diseases and policy reforms.

Despite increased US aid to Indonesia in recent years, some prominent academics and politicians across the archipelago are anxious to see where future bilateral relations will lead, given the Trump administration's increasingly protectionist stance on global trade.

Furthermore, Hikmahanto voiced concerns over the timing of Pence’s visit, which happens to coincide with ongoing negotiations between Indonesia and US-based mining company Freeport McMoran.

"Pence’s presence in the country will be viewed with warranted suspicion by the public, maybe as a way to coerce Indonesia in compromising [with Freeport]," Hikmahanto said.

SHARE