In this Policy Options Paper, the authors outline China’s involvement in Indonesia’s digital development. They argue that Australia, and other Quad countries, should offer alternatives to the Chinese state-back technology and training.
• Indonesia’s technology choices will impact the regional contest for influence and technological leadership. Australia and other Quad countries need to do more to positively shape these choices.
• A lack of trained talent and infrastructure shortfalls are the biggest obstacles to further develop Indonesia’s digital industries.
• Huawei and other firms backed by the Chinese government are providing free large-scale technology training to Indonesian officials, professionals, and students. Huawei alone is training tens of thousands of Indonesians every year. This is steering Indonesia’s current and future tech leaders towards Chinese technology.
• Australia and other Quad countries do not have a coherent or well-resourced response to China’s approach. Australia’s focus on cyber norms and security misses Indonesia’s needs for concrete technical training.
• Australia, in concert with other Quad countries, should deliver a vocational technology training program that is large enough to genuinely improve Indonesia’s technology capacity and offer alternatives to Chinese state-backed technology and training.
• Large tech firms from Quad countries should contribute their technology and expertise to an internationally accredited vocational program. Australia’s vocational education and training sector should also help develop people-to-people and educational links with Indonesia.