Recognised for its diverse cultural heritage, which stretches from one end of the country to the other, Indonesia prioritises culture as the most effective vehicle for conducting international diplomacy. Cultural diplomacy includes several elements such as traditional clothing, traditional dances, traditional musical instruments, language, special food, and the unique characteristics of the local community such as friendliness and good hospitality, all of which are used to advance national interests.
Even though Indonesia consists of a plethora of tribes and cultures, Indonesia still adheres to the motto “Bhinneka Tunggal Ika” which means unity in diversity, so that the character of mutual assistance and friendliness can still be felt by the entire community as part of its unique character.
Indonesia, which is located in Southeast Asia, is a member of the ASEAN regional organisation, which aims to improve the quality of life for ASEAN residents and promote sustainable development in the area. In this case, activities such as meetings or other additional meetings are held regularly to discuss the vision and mission that will be carried out in the future or to convey things that have been implemented to achieve common goals in the ASEAN region in particular.
In 2023, a total of 22 state leaders attended the 43rd ASEAN Summit in Indonesia including the invited countries such as Bangladesh and the Cook Islands, and some international organisations that had the same goals as the ASEAN member states.
42nd and 43rd ASEAN Summit
The 42nd ASEAN Summit held in May discussed issues related to human trafficking due to the digital era, cross-border payment connectivity, and the violent conflict in Myanmar. In addition, that summit consisted of five summits and three bilateral meetings. On the other hand, the 43rd ASEAN Summit was conducted in September with twelve summits and thirteen bilateral meetings. In the 43rd summit, the discussion issues included the code of conduct on the South China Sea, ASEAN maritime outlook, and the future challenges in the organisation.
During the gala dinner, Indonesia took advantage of the opportunity to promote Indonesian arts and culture by conducting Indonesian arts and culture performances. Commencing with regional dances, popular Indonesian songs sung by the best Indonesian singers were also performed and enlivened at the gala dinner that evening. Apart from that, the tall buildings around the dinner location also displayed video mapping of the 43rd ASEAN Summit which was accompanied by a fireworks display on the ceiling of the dinner location.
Food and Culture of Indonesia
Indonesia often carries out cultural diplomacy through food, where this activity is referred to as gastro diplomacy, promoting Indonesian specialties at international events in the representative regions. Indonesian gastro diplomacy is also widely carried out through the promotion of famous Indonesian specialty coffees like torabika and good day. Indonesian people have a fairly good and high coffee-drinking culture which can also be an opportunity to promote Indonesian culture to the world.
Batik has become one of the tools of Indonesian cultural diplomacy in ASEAN which has been utilised at every official meeting and has also been recognised by UNESCO as part of the Indonesian cultural heritage.
Indonesia also carried out cultural diplomacy through the social media accounts of President Joko Widodo, the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy as well as the Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy, Sandiaga Salahuddin Uno.
The food menu served at dinner was typical Indonesian food. Psychologically, humans will easily remember the taste of the food they eat which can be a tool to provide a unique Indonesian taste that can be remembered well by people abroad. The food menu consisted of Indonesian foods such as Andaliman crab from North Sumatra, soy sauce meat from Java, rawon from East Java, fruit rujak typical of Java Island.
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