Indonesia–United Kingdom relations

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Indonesia-United Kingdom relations
Map indicating locations of Indonesia and United Kingdom


United Kingdom

The United Kingdom and Indonesia have maintained strong relations since formal relations were established in 1949.[1] Indonesia has an embassy in London,[2] the United Kingdom has an embassy in Jakarta.[3] The United Kingdom considers Indonesia an increasingly important partner globally and is committed to efforts to take bilateral relations to new heights.[4] Both nations are the member of G-20 major economies.

According to a 2013 BBC World Service Poll, 65% of Indonesians view United Kingdom's influence positively, with only 15% expressing a negative view, this is the second most favourable perceptions of United Kingdom in Asia after South Korea's.[5]


English sailors first reached what is now Indonesia in the 16th century, Sir Francis Drake reached Moluccas in 1579 on his circum-globe journey. The British East India Company opened a trading post in Bantam on the first voyage in 1601 and imports of pepper from Java were an important part of the Company's trade for twenty years. However because of heavy competition with Dutch East India Company, British trade post in Bantam was closed in 1683. British shifted their attention to Indian subcontinent while the Dutch establishing themselves firmer in Java and later expanding to most of Indonesian archipelago.

British established their garrison at Bencoolen in 1685 and in 1714 built Fort Marlborough in the city. British also established trading post in Riau, also the Strait Settlements in Penang and Singapore in the region, while the Dutch wrestled the port of Malacca from Portuguese in 1641. During Napoleonic Wars in Europe the Kingdom of Holland were fell to French Republic and also their colonies in East Indies. The British launched a military campaign against Dutch and French hold in Java and establishing British rule on Java. For a short period, Indonesia once belongs under British administration from 1811 to 1815. Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles was appointed as the Lieutenant Governor of Java in 1811-1816. He was an enthusiast of Javanese culture and history that during his administration he led expeditions that discovered Borobudur, Trowulan and other archaeological sites in Java, subsequently he wrote The History of Java and published it in 1817.[6]

British and Dutch signed the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824 which pretty much defined the boundary of British and Dutch realms in Southeast Asia and India. The boundaries later were inherited by modern Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore. The name "Indonesia" was first coined by English scientist. In 1850, George Windsor Earl, an English ethnologist, proposed the terms Indunesians — and, his preference, Malayunesians — for the inhabitants of the "Indian Archipelago or Malayan Archipelago".[7] In the same publication, a student of Earl's, James Richardson Logan, used Indonesia as a synonym for Indian Archipelago.[8][9]

The British ruled Malay Peninsula (British Malaya) and Northern Borneo, while the Dutch controlled Java, Sumatra, and most of Indonesian archipelago until Japanese invasion in 1942. During the aftermath of World War II, the Allied Forces led by British were involved in a warfare with Republican Indonesian soldiers and militia during the Battle of Surabaya in 1945. The British Indian troops tried to conquer Surabaya on behalf of the Netherlands, but faced some fierce resistances from Indonesian troops and militias.

Again in 1962 the British army and Indonesian Armed Forces were locked in undeclared warfare in Northern Borneo (Sabah and Sarawak) during Indonesia–Malaysia confrontation. The Indonesian Soekarno administration against the British decolonization initiative on the formation of Malaysia, the amalgamation of the Federation of Malaya (now West Malaysia), Singapore and the crown colony/British protectorates of Sabah and Sarawak (collectively known as British Borneo, now East Malaysia). British assisted the Malaysian armed force against Indonesian campaigns and operations on Northern Borneo. With the fall of Soekarno and plagued with internal problems, Indonesia lost their intention to continue the fight and the hostilities ceased. Indonesia finally agreed on the formation of Malaysian Federation.

After the turbulent years in the 60's, the relations between Indonesia and United Kingdoms are improving ever since. Because of the importance of English as international language, Indonesian government has been promoting the education of English as the most important foreign language taught in Indonesian schools since the 1970s. The British Council was established since 1948 in Jakarta to promote British culture in Indonesia through nurturing their core areas; English, arts, education and society.[10]

In 1989 the Prince and Princess of Wales visited Indonesia.[11] The royal couple visited Sitanala leprosy hospital in Tangerang, Taman Mini Indonesia Indah in Jakarta, Kraton Yogyakarta, Borobudur, and Bali, this was the first time British royalties ever visited Indonesia. The Prince of Wales later revisited Yogyakarta and Borobudur in 2008.

In October 2012 Indonesian President Yudhoyono received the prestigious Honorary Knights Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath awarded by Queen Elizabeth II.[12]


British Prime Minister David Cameron meeting with Indonesian President Yudhoyono

The Culture and Tourism Ministry of Indonesia launched a campaign to boost the number of tourists from the UK entering Indonesia.[2] In 2009, 160,000 British tourists visited Indonesia, the aim of the campaign was to boost this number to 200,000.[2]

In 2006 former British prime-minister Tony Blair met with Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono where they agreed upon "the establishment of a regular Indonesia-UK Partnership Forum to be chaired by the Foreign Ministers, to promote strategic dialogue on bilateral, multilateral and global issues".[1] The first Indonesia-UK forum was held in 2007 and was chaired by British foreign minister Margaret Beckett and Indonesian foreign minister Hassan Wirajuda.[1] In March 2010 members of the House of Lords praised Indonesia for their progress in democratizing society, media freedom and environmental protection.[13] In a meeting with Indonesian MP Hayono Isman, the Lords stated that they wanted to improve the relationship between the two countries.[13]

Trade and investment[edit]

Exports of UK goods to Indonesia in 2010 were worth £438.9 million, an increase of 25% over the previous year, whilst imports of goods to the UK from Indonesia saw an increase of 13% to £1.3 billion.[14] British companies operating in Indonesia include energy giant BP, lenders Standard Chartered Bank and HSBC and tobacco group British American Tobacco.[15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c UK-Indonesia relations
  2. ^ a b c News-Indonesianembassy
  3. ^ Our embassy
  4. ^ Linda Yulisman (2013-01-14). "UK sees Indonesia as strategic partner". The Jakarta Post. Asian News Network. Retrieved 31 March 2013. 
  5. ^ 2013 World Service Poll BBC
  6. ^ Sir Thomas Stammford Raffles: The History of Java; Black, Parbury, and Allen for the Hon. East India Company 1817; reprinted in the Cambridge Library Collection, 2010
  7. ^ Earl, George SW (1850). "On The Leading Characteristics of the Papuan, Australian and Malay-Polynesian Nations". Journal of the Indian Archipelago and Eastern Asia (JIAEA): 119. 
  8. ^ Logan, James Richardson (1850). "The Ethnology of the Indian Archipelago: Embracing Enquiries into the Continental Relations of the Indo-Pacific Islanders". Journal of the Indian Archipelago and Eastern Asia (JIAEA): 4:252–347. 
  9. ^ Earl, George SW (1850). "On The Leading Characteristics of the Papuan, Australian and Malay-Polynesian Nations". Journal of the Indian Archipelago and Eastern Asia (JIAEA): 254, 277–8. 
  10. ^ "British Council Indonesia". British Council Indonesia. Retrieved 31 March 2013. 
  11. ^ "Travels with Princess Diana". Retrieved 22 December 2012. 
  12. ^ Saragih, Bagus BT (October 29, 2012). "SBY to receive honor from UK Queen". The Jakarta Post. Retrieved 31 March 2013. 
  13. ^ a b Ministry of Foreign Affairs - Members of the UK’s House of Lords praised Indonesia’s achievements
  14. ^ "Indonesia". United Kingdom Trade and Investment. Retrieved 31 March 2013. 
  15. ^ Muhamad Al Azhari (November 29, 2012). "British Companies Upbeat on Indonesia, but See Challenges". JakartaGlobe. Retrieved 31 March 2013. 

Further reading[edit]