Exotic dancers, intense security and questions about U.S. trade and Asian policies await President Reagan when he visits this renowned tourist resort island of Bali next week before flying to the Tokyo summit meeting.
Officially billed in part as a rest stop, the visit from April 29 to May 2 seems likely to become a forum for Southeast Asia's misgivings about various U.S. policies, mainly those affecting the economies of the region's noncommunist states, diplomats said.
It will be highlighted by meetings between Reagan and Indonesian President Suharto and a session with foreign ministers of the six-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), comprising Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei.
The Reagan visit, the first by a U.S. president to Southeast Asia in a decade, comes at an awkward time for the host, President Suharto, who is beset by plummeting oil prices and allegations of corruption involving his family. After being miffed when Reagan canceled a trip to Jakarta in 1983, Suharto has had to contend with criticism of the visit because of the recent U.S. raid on Libya.
Reagan dropped a scheduled Southeast Asia swing in 1983 because the assassination of Philippine opposition leader Benigno Aquino Jr. ruled out a meeting in Manila with then-president Ferdinand Marcos.
The Bali visit also coincides with a crackdown on dissidents, including a former Cabinet minister who was sentenced last year to 19 years in prison for alleged subversion and is currently on trial for a purported 1982 plot to kill Suharto.
Extremely sensitive to criticism, the Suharto government reacted harshly to an April 10 article in Australia's Sydney Morning Herald newspaper alleging that Suharto, his relatives and business associates enriched themselves through government contracts and favoritism.
The government called off a trip to Australia by a Cabinet minister, demanded that the Australian government, in effect, censor its press and barred all Australian journalists from covering the ASEAN foreign ministers' meeting and the Reagan visit.
U.S. authorities clearly are worried about how the Indonesians may react to reporting deemed critical when about 500 foreign journalists descend on Bali next week. Already, the Bangkok-based correspondent for The New York Times, Barbara Crossette, has been barred from covering the Bali meetings for reasons that have not been officially explained. Earlier this year, Indonesian authorities declined to renew the visas of two Jakarta-based American correspondents for the Far Eastern Economic Review magazine because of objections to reporting about the politically powerful Indonesian military.
Suharto, 64, who has held power for 20 years, also has shown irritation lately with comparisons of his government and that of ousted Philippine president Marcos, whose corrupt and authoritarian administration was overthrown two months ago in a military-led popular revolt.
The Jakarta government evidently hopes the Reagan visit will accentuate the positive and serve as an international showcase for Indonesia, which seeks to play a more important and assertive role, commensurate with its size, in the region and the world.
A chain of 13,677 islands stretching across 3,200 miles, Indonesia is the world's largest archipelago and occupies a strategic postion between the Indian and Pacific oceans. Its population of 163 million, which is 90 percent Moslem, makes it the world's fifth largest nation behind China, India, the Soviet Union and the United States and the biggest predominantly Moslem country.
A leading oil producer, the former Dutch colony once known as the Spice Islands or the East Indies, also is a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and one of the founders of the Nonaligned Movement.
Amid the Nonaligned Movement's recent condemnation of the U.S. air raid on Libya, Suharto reportedly has faced demands from some Islamic states to cancel the Reagan visit. Indonesia, whose government is secular, officially has deplored the raid but has made no move to call off the visit.
On Monday, Indonesian troops hastily broke up an unauthorized protest demonstration by about 40 people in front of the U.S. Embassy and tore up placards denouncing the raid. Authorities warned the Indonesian press not to mention the incident.
Stronger official condemnation of the U.S. raid came from Malaysia, where Moslem fundamentalism has a more vocal following and Islam is the state religion. About half of Malaysia's 16 million population is Moslem.
Thailand also surprised the United States by voting for a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning the U.S. raid on Libya. The State Department said it was "deeply disappointed" by the vote, which would have enabled the resolution to pass if the United States, Britain and France had not vetoed it. Thailand said it voted against its U.S. ally "with a heavy heart" on a "matter of principle," but concerns were also expressed in Bangkok about the estimated 30,000 Thais working in Libya.
Thai officials denied that the vote also was meant to show dissatisfaction with the United States over the recently passed U.S. Farm Act, which Thailand feels will undercut its lucrative rice exports and affect millions of Thai farmers. The Farm Act and other U.S. measures that ASEAN members consider protectionist are expected to be a major topic for discussions with Reagan, diplomats said.
In the talks between Reagan and Suharto, the two leaders' "different perspectives on China and the Middle East," as one senior western diplomat put it, are expected to come up. Indonesia, long suspicious of China for what it regards as a Peking-inspired communist coup attempt in 1965, repeatedly has expressed fears of Chinese expansionism as the country gains military and economic strength. As a consequence, Indonesia has been more sympathetic to Vietnam than the rest of ASEAN and has tried repeatedly, but so far in vain, to forge a compromise to end a seven-year war in Cambodia between Vietnamese occupation forces and Cambodian resistance groups.
Suharto is expected to remind Reagan that "Asia is not China and Japan alone" and urge him to spell out a clear and comprehensive policy on Southeast Asia, said a leading Indonesian foreign policy expert.
"We are not naive about the Soviet presence, but we are not overalarmed," he said.
Vietnam harbors what is essentially a Soviet naval and air base at Cam Ranh Bay, a source of major U.S. concern about a steady buildup of Soviet power in the region.
Strict security measures will be in force for the Reagan visit, with access to the Nusa Dua resort area limited and tourists diverted to other hotels. Airport security has been tightened, with guards checking the bags of all arriving passengers in Bali.
Hundreds of Balinese dancers are rehearsing to perform for the Reagans at colorful welcoming ceremonies.
Most of Bali's 2.6 million inhabitants are Hindu and maintain a unique culture that has withstood a tourist boom that has brought hundreds of thousands of vacationers, mostly Australians, here since the 1970s.
Most come for the sun and sand and the relatively inexpensive accommodations available in the Kuta Beach area. Others seek out the hallucinogenic "magic mushrooms" that grow on the island but which the Balinese generally shun.
The tolerant Balinese have grown accustomed to the eccentricities of their tourists, scarcely paying attention to legions of topless sunbathers. Even women who make a career out of massaging sunbathers on Kuta Beach wear hats and long-sleeved shirts to avoid the tan sought by their incomprehensible visitors