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Indonesia Is Handing Out Coal Mines To Religious Groups. Here’s Why China Stands To Benefit

Yahya Cholil Staquf, Chairman of the Central Board of Nahdlatul Ulama (PBNU), delivers a speech a during the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit, ahead of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Jakarta on September 4, 2023. (Photo by Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP)

This article is co-authored by Antonia Timmerman, Southeast Asia Editor at the China-Global South Project, Muhammad Zulfikar Rakhmat, Director of the China-Indonesia Desk at the Center of Economic and Law Studies (CELIOS), and Yeta Purnama, researcher at CELIOS. 

Indonesia found itself at a critical juncture with the enactment of a contentious decree allowing religious organizations to oversee mining operations. The government said the law would promote equitable resource distribution. However, environmentalists and citizens viewed it as a veiled attempt to consolidate power and privilege.

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