China’s wisdom, energy, win-win mindset appreciated by Indonesian people, creates model for global cooperation: Chinese Ambassador to Indonesia
Engine of success
Published: Sep 06, 2023 08:43 PM
Editor's Note: 

The Jakarta-Bandung High-Speed Railway (HSR), a landmark project under the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), is undergoing intensive joint commissioning and testing, paving the way for commercial operations scheduled to begin soon this year. 

Chinese Premier Li Qiang aboard a bullet train during a trial run on Wednesday during his official trip to the ASEAN summit in Indonesia from September 5 to 7, Reuters reported.

The Jakarta-Bandung HSR is the first high-speed railway line in Indonesia and Southeast Asia, connecting Indonesia's most densely populated areas.

As the Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway line is set to open, Global Times reporters Hu Yuwei and Zhao Juecheng (GT) interviewed the Chinese Ambassador to Indonesia Lu Kang (Lu), who is also a former spokesperson of Chinese Foreign Ministry.

Lu believed that the Jakarta-Bandung HSR will bring tangible benefits to Indonesia, while expecting the project to become a new growth point and create a high-speed railway economic corridor. He argued that the consensus reached by the heads of China and Indonesia further illuminates the direction to be taken and injects strong momentum into future relations. China supports Indonesia's chairmanship of ASEAN and is willing to deepen comprehensive strategic partnerships with ASEAN members.

Chinese Ambassador to Indonesia Lu Kang Photo: VCG

Chinese Ambassador to Indonesia Lu Kang Photo: VCG

GT: What changes will the Jakarta-Bandung HSR bring to Indonesia? What are local people's expectations?

The opening of the Jakarta-Bandung HSR will bring many tangible benefits to Indonesia such as more efficient travel conditions. The travel time from Jakarta to Bandung will be reduced from three and a half hour to just 40 minutes, effectively alleviating commuting traffic pressure between the two cities.

In the long run, the project will further boost investment and create employment opportunities for the people, and drive commercial development and tourism along the route. It may even become a new growth point, accelerating the formation of a high-speed railway economic corridor.

On June 22, I was invited to take a trial ride on the train together with Indonesia's Coordinator for Cooperation with China and Coordinating Minister of Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, Transport Minister Budi Karya Sumadi, West Java Governor Ridwan Kamil, and president of railway operator China State Railway Group Liu Zhenfang. During the trial ride, the train reached a speed of over 355 kilometers per hour, surpassing the current fastest commercial speed of any high-speed railway in the world, which amazed our Indonesian friends and earned praise for Chinese-made high-speed railway technology.

On that day, I also noticed that many locals were watching the train along the way. I was told that Indonesian people take videos of the passing trains along the high-speed railway every day, which reflects their high expectations for the project.

GT: The construction of the Jakarta-Bandung HSR marks the first all-round implementation of Chinese high-speed railway technology abroad, from the whole system and all of its elements, to the whole industrial chain. Does it mean a big step for China's high-speed railway manufacturing going global?

The Jakarta-Bandung HSR vividly embodies the concept of "extensive consultation, joint contribution, and shared benefits" under the BRI framework and has important reference significance for us to carry out other similar projects. 

The successful completion of the Jakarta-Bandung HSR directly proves that Chinese manufacturing technology is mature, efficient, internationally standardized, adaptable to local environments, and actively integrated into the development plans of the host country. This will greatly facilitate China's manufacturing going global and inspire developing countries to have confidence in pursuing development paths that suit their own national conditions.

The view of Jakarta, capital of Indonesia Photo: VCG

The view of Jakarta, capital of Indonesia Photo: VCG

GT: According to your observations how has the BRI benefited livelihoods and brought tangible benefits to the Indonesian people? 

Taking infrastructure connectivity as an example, since the proposal of the BRI, China and Indonesia have cooperated to build a number of high-quality projects, covering areas such as power plants, roads and bridges, dams, and telecommunication networks, making positive contributions to Indonesia's passion to become a traffic hub. 

A series of iconic projects have been completed, such as the Suramadu Bridge, the longest sea-crossing bridge in Southeast Asia, the Tayan Bridge, the longest corbeled stone-arch bridge in Indonesia, and the Jatigede Dam, the second-largest dam in Indonesia, bringing convenience to the local populations.

Chinese-funded enterprises in Indonesia have not only provided a large number of job opportunities for the locals but also contributed to the development of local livelihoods through knowledge and technology sharing. Taking the Jakarta-Bandung HSR as an example, over 75 percent of the services and procurement for the project are sourced locally in Indonesia, significantly boosting the local supply chain and employment. It is estimated that the project will create 30,000 job opportunities in Indonesia.

GT: Chinese President Xi Jinping met with Indonesian President Joko Widodo On July 27 in Chengdu when Widodo visited China. How do you evaluate the achievements of President Widodo's visit to China this time? 

This is the third face-to-face meeting between the two heads of state within a year, which reflects the high level and special nature of China-Indonesia relations. As President Xi said, on the path to national modernization and rejuvenation, China and Indonesia share highly aligned visions and present opportunities for each other's development, are like-minded companions, and good partners. 

This further clears the direction and injects strong momentum into the future friendship between China and Indonesia. After the meeting, the two leaders witnessed the signing of multiple bilateral cooperation agreements, including agricultural product exports to China, health cooperation, joint research and development, as well as the construction of the new Indonesian capital and the "Two Countries, Twin Parks" project, achieving significant practical results.

GT: This year marks the 10th anniversary of the BRI and the comprehensive strategic partnership between China and Indonesia. We have noticed that President Widodo's "Global Maritime Fulcrum (GMF)" strategy resonates with China's 21st Century Maritime Silk Road initiative. How do you envision future cooperation between China and Indonesia with synergy of strategies?

In November 2022, Chinese President Xi and Indonesian President Widodo reached an important consensus on building a community of shared future between China and Indonesia. They agreed to take the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the comprehensive strategic partnership between China and Indonesia in 2023 as an opportunity to create a new pattern of high-level cooperation. 

The two sides signed a cooperation plan under the framework of aligning the BRI with the GMF concept, and significant progress has been made in its implementation. The Jakarta-Bandung HSR is one of the flagship projects.

In July this year, the two heads of state met again in Chengdu and reached an important consensus on deepening strategic cooperation between China and Indonesia. 

We will take the 10th anniversary of the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries and the first year of the China-Indonesia community of shared future as a chance to promote deeper and higher-level strategic cooperation between the two sides, injecting more certainty and positive energy into the region and the world.

GT: How do you evaluate the current level of cooperation between China and Indonesia in the fields of economy, trade, and investment? What suggestions do you have for further enhancing bilateral economic and trade cooperation?

In recent years, with the comprehensive integration of the BRI and Indonesia's GMF, China-Indonesia economic and trade cooperation has achieved fruitful results. China has been Indonesia's largest trading partner for 10 consecutive years. In 2022, the bilateral trade volume between China and Indonesia reached $149.1 billion, a year-on-year increase of 20.16 percent. Investment cooperation is also a highlight of the two countries' economic and trade cooperation. In 2022, the Chinese mainland's investment in Indonesia reached $8.2 billion, a year-on-year increase of 156.25 percent, maintaining its position as the second-largest foreign investor in Indonesia.

According to the consensus reached by both sides earlier this year, China is willing to further expand the importation of Indonesian bulk commodities and high-quality agricultural and fishery products according to market demand. 

The Chinese government encourages its enterprises to invest in Indonesia and expand cooperation in infrastructure, green development, the digital economy, healthcare, and other fields. We aim to create highlights in maritime cooperation and promote the resumption of fisheries cooperation.

GT: In the current tense geopolitical situation, ASEAN members have become objects of competition for major powers. Indonesia is the key member of the ASEAN. How can China-Indonesia cooperation better deal with geopolitics challenges and achieve long-term stability?

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries and the 20th anniversary of China's accession to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia. As President Xi once said, the Asia-Pacific is no one's backyard and should not become an arena for big power contests and no attempt to wage a new cold war will ever be allowed by the people or by our times. This is the inevitable requirement for maintaining peace, stability, and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region and the common wishes of people in the ASEAN and other countries.

One important reason why the ASEAN can maintain its central position in the regional architecture is its long-standing commitment to independence, non-alignment, and neutrality. The ASEAN has repeatedly stated that it will adhere to openness, inclusiveness, dialogue, and cooperation, and focus on economic development without aligning with or targeting any party.

In the process of achieving national modernization and rejuvenation, China and Indonesia have highly compatible ideas that present mutually beneficial development opportunities. They are like-minded partners and good companions. 

China supports Indonesia's role as the rotating chair of the ASEAN this year and is willing to deepen comprehensive strategic partnerships with ASEAN countries, including Indonesia, and jointly create a positive energy.

GT: Shortly after taking office as Chinese Ambassador to Indonesia in 2022, you opened a Twitter account. Do you have any interesting or memorable stories to share with us about your interactions with locals on social media? 

Since opening my Twitter account over a year ago, I have been able to interact closely with Indonesian and global netizens through this platform, and I am deeply impressed by their interest in China. 

A friend once told me that the Indonesian people seem less interested in politics, but the content I shared on Twitter about President Xi's activities and the interpretation of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era have received widespread and positive responses. 

In the comments section, many Indonesian netizens have expressed their appreciation, saying that Indonesians like to cooperate with China for development and that cooperation with China is friendly trade, not a command. 

Such enthusiastic feedback was unexpected but reasonable. China's wisdom and solutions have made it possible to solve more global issues and inject new energy into global development.