China, Indonesia to enhance the synergy of strategies as Premier Li meets President Widodo
Ties inject impetus into regional stability, prosperity; resist US sowing discord
Published: Sep 08, 2023 10:32 PM Updated: Sep 09, 2023 12:01 AM
Chinese Premier Li Qiang holds talks with Indonesian President Joko Widodo in Jakarta, Indonesia, Sep 8, 2023. Photo:Xinhua

Chinese Premier Li Qiang holds talks with Indonesian President Joko Widodo in Jakarta, Indonesia, Sep 8, 2023. Photo:Xinhua

China is ready to work with Indonesia to implement the important consensus reached by the two countries' heads of state, further enhance the synergy of development strategies, promote the common development of the two countries, and inject lasting impetus into regional stability and prosperity, Chinese Premier Li Qiang said in talks with Indonesian President Joko Widodo in Jakarta on Friday, as the leaders are heading to the G20 Summit in India following the conclusion of the ASEAN Summit.

Widodo's meeting with Premier Li marks the second high-level meeting between Indonesia and its largest trading partner in two months, after Indonesian president's meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the end of July in China.

The Indonesian president said the comprehensive strategic partnership between Indonesia and China has yielded fruitful results in recent years. He added that his country will continue to carry forward the Bandung Spirit and stands ready to work with China to promote regional cooperation and jointly safeguard regional peace, stability and prosperity, according to the Xinhua News Agency.

During the visit, the two sides signed a number of bilateral cooperation documents on industry, agriculture, fishery, e-commerce, and scientific and technological innovation.

Chinese experts said the relatively high frequency of exchanges between the leaders and high-ranking officials of China and Indonesia reflected that bilateral ties are at a new height, and the continued deepening of multi-faceted cooperation with high quality between the two sides can be expected in the future.

They believed that the cooperation between China and Indonesia, ASEAN's largest economy and most populous country, will have a demonstrative effect in the region, which is of vital importance to maintaining the momentum of development and stability in the Asia Pacific, especially at a time when the US is making efforts to drive wedges and create divisions in the Asia-Pacific through the South China Sea issue.

Strategic guidance from top

During talks with Widodo, Premier Li said that under the strategic guidance of the two heads of state, bilateral relations have maintained a strong momentum of development, according to Xinhua.

Li called on the two sides to continue deepening strategic mutual trust, boost mutual support on issues concerning each other's core interests and major concerns, jointly respond to various risks and challenges, continue to expand exchanges at all levels, and make good use of mechanisms such as bilateral high-level dialogue and cooperation.

Widodo's meeting with Premier Li came less than two months after his meeting with President Xi in Chengdu, as he was attending the opening ceremony of the 31st summer edition of the FISU World University Games in the southwest Chinese city.

Xi told Widodo that China is ready to deepen strategic cooperation with Indonesia, set a good example of how developing countries can share a common future, pursue solidarity and cooperation and boost common development, and inject more certainty and positive energy into the region and the world.

According to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, in recent years, the leaders of the two countries have had frequent exchanges. Xi met with Widodo during the 26th APEC Leaders' Meeting in November 2018, during the G20 Osaka Summit in June 2019, and during the G20 Bali Summit in November 2022. Widodo has also visited China several times since 2014. Since the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, the two leaders have spoken on the phone six times.

The exchange of visits and dialogues between Chinese and Indonesian leaders, including those between ministers, has been very frequent since 2013, which shows that China-Indonesia relations have reached a new height, Luo Yongkun, deputy director of Institute of Southeast Asian and Oceanian Studies at China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, told the Global Times.

2023 marks the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the comprehensive strategic partnership between China and Indonesia, the 10th anniversary of Xi's proposal to build a closer China-ASEAN community with a shared future, as well as the 10th anniversary of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

"Under the guidance of high-level interactions between the two countries, the mutual trust and cooperation between the two countries continue to deepen," Luo said, "We need such frequent high-level visits to carry out necessary communication on some issues of common concerns, especially regional and international hotspot issues."

Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway Photo: Hu Yuwei/GT

Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway Photo: Hu Yuwei/GT

Demonstrative effect

Premier Li, who took a test ride on the Jakarta-Bandung High-Speed Railway on Wednesday, a landmark project under the BRI, told Widodo on Friday that the two sides should continue to expand practical cooperation.

Li said China will work with Indonesia to make the Regional Comprehensive Economic Corridor and the "Two Countries, Twin Parks" new flagship projects of BRI cooperation.

China stands ready to work with Indonesia for high-quality implementation of the RCEP, expand imports of bulk commodities and quality agricultural and fishery products from Indonesia, and encourage Chinese enterprises to invest and do business in Indonesia, he said.

China supports the construction of Indonesia's new capital, and stands ready to work with Indonesia to foster "new engines" for cooperation such as digital economy and green development, and further strengthen exchanges and cooperation in agriculture, pharmaceuticals and health, youth, education, culture and tourism, Li added.

Indonesia and China have achieved remarkable cooperation results under the BRI framework, and trade volume has been growing in recent years, Gu Xiaosong, dean of the ASEAN Research Institute of Hainan Tropical Ocean University, told the Global Times on Friday.

China is Indonesia's largest trading partner. In 2022, bilateral trade between China and Indonesia reached $149.1 billion, up 19.8 percent year-on-year. Indonesia is China's second largest investment destination in ASEAN, with China's total investment in Indonesia in 2022 reaching $8.19 billion, according to data released by the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

According to Gu, the potential for economic and trade cooperation between China and Indonesia remains high, especially considering that Vietnam is the ASEAN country with the highest total trade volume with China, while Vietnam cannot be comparable to Indonesia in terms of economic volume and population.

Indonesia is the largest country in ASEAN, accounting for about 40 percent of ASEAN's total population and economy volume, and has a strong regional influence. The smooth development of China-Indonesia ties has a demonstrative effect on other ASEAN countries, Gu said.

There is much room for high-quality cooperation between China and Indonesia in the future, and China's 21st Century Maritime Silk Road and Indonesia's maritime development strategy will be further aligned, Gu said.

Analysts said that China is in line with ASEAN members in promoting cooperation and maintaining regional peace and stability, and it is the US that has been playing a negative role in undermining the cooperative atmosphere in the region. Before and during the ASEAN Summit, the US did not stop shoring up alliances and lobbying allies to go against China on South China Sea issue. US President Joe Biden skipped the ASEAN Summit, but will attend the G20 summit in India, following it with a scheduled visit in Hanoi to woo Vietnam.

"When the US tries to drive wedges and destroy the atmosphere of cooperation in the Asia-Pacific through the South China Sea issue, Beijing and Jakarta's exchange and cooperation is a sign of determination to keep the momentum of peace and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific," Luo said. "That is very important to the other regional countries."

When faced with the intervention of external forces, the priority is to maintain peaceful development cooperation and stability in the region. This is the aspiration not only of China and Indonesia, but also of the countries in the region as a whole, Luo said.