As friendly neighbours for generations, China and Indonesia have been dovetailing respective development strategies in recent years, with their comprehensive strategic partnership, pushing bilateral ties into “the best time in history,” said Xiao Qian, the Chinese Ambassador to Indonesia.
During an interview ahead of Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan’s visit to Indonesia, the Ambassador said in the past six years, high-level visits and exchanges between the two countries’ leaders and senior government officials have been frequent.
Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Indonesian counterpart Joko Widodo have met eight times on various occasions. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang chose Indonesia as his first stop of overseas visits last May after the new cabinet took office in March.
“Last April, Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla attended the Second Belt & Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing. In just a couple of days, the special envoy of President Xi Jinping, Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan will attend the inauguration ceremony of Indonesian President Joko Widodo and pay a friendly visit to Indonesia, showing President Xi and the Chinese government’s high emphasis on Sino-Indonesian relationship,” Xiao said.
Last October, the two governments officially signed an MoU on cooperation between the Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) and the Global Maritime Fulcrum, signalling a new phase of synergizing respective development strategies between the two nations.
“The landmark project of the first phase of the synergy, Jakarta-Bandung high speed rail (HSR) has sped up construction and entered a new period,” he said.
On Sept. 30, the first box girder of the HSR was successfully installed, after the first tunnel the Walini tunnel finished construction in May.
“As the first high-speed railway in Indonesia and Southeast Asia, the Jakarta-Bandung HSR will shorten travel time between the two cities to about 40 minutes from over three hours, and form a HSR economic corridor, yielding great social and economic benefits,” Xiao said.
The second phase of the synergy, the regional comprehensive economic corridor has started planning for construction. Other major infrastructure facilities jointly built by Indonesia and China such as the Jatigede Dam and the Surabaya-Madura Bridge have brought more employment and income to local people.
Besides, the two countries have also started discussion on industrialisation cooperation, and is expected to become the new highlight of synergy of respective development strategies, the Ambassador added.
In 2018, the trade value between China and Indonesia reached 77.4 billion U.S. dollars, with China being Indonesia’s largest trading partner in eight consecutive years. China is also Indonesia’s third largest foreign investment source country, with China’s FDI to Indonesia reaching 2.29 billion dollars in the first half of this year, close to last year’s whole-year investment.
“Currently, bilateral cooperation has rapidly expanded from traditional infrastructure, resources and communications areas to newly-emerged areas such as industrialisation, finance, e-commerce, IT, human resources and others,” Xiao said.
“People-to-people and cultural exchanges have been an vital part of bilateral relations,” he noted. As a tropical island country, Indonesia is a popular tourism destination for Chinese vacation spenders. China has been a major tourist source country for Indonesia, with this year’s number expected to exceed 2.5 million.
In return, China is the second largest overseas study destination for Indonesian students, and around 15,000 Indonesian students are currently studying in China. Bilateral exchanges in other areas such as military, local, sports, religion, youth and media are also deepening.
“China and Indonesia are both major developing countries, newly emerged economies and important nations in Asia, the healthy and steady development of Sino-Indonesian relationship benefits not only the two nations and their people, but also the region and the world,” said the Ambassador.
“In the next five-year-term of President Joko Widodo, we hope the two countries could continue to make joint efforts to promote the bilateral comprehensive strategic partnership to a new level, so as to better serve their people.”