Friday, June 14, 2024

China, Indonesia extend agreement on Belt and Road Initiative

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Gusty da Costa





China and Indonesia would conduct an in-depth and high-quality cooperation through the synergy of Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and Global Maritime Fulcrum (GMF), leaders of both countries agreed on July 26, 2022.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo met with Chinese President Xi Jinping at Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing upon the latter’s invitation. Xi has not left China since around the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in late 2019.

At the occasion, Widodo also extended invitation to Xi to attend the G20 Summit in Bali in November.

Xi expressed full support to Indonesia in hosting the G20 Summit, saying that “China is willing to strengthen coordination with Indonesia to ensure the success of the event”, China Daily reported.

“There is a possibility that Xi Jinping will attend in person but the final decision has not been made yet. There are a lot of uncertainties with the pandemic,” Xu Liping, director of the Centre for South-east Asian Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing, said as quoted by the Straits Times.

China is Widodo’s first stop of his three-day, three-nation tour of East Asia including South Korea and Japan, where the name of the game is to expand largely economic cooperation with Indonesia’s “strategic” and “traditional” partners, according to The Jakarta Post.

China-Indonesia bilateral agreements

Both China and Indonesia committed to the completion of the Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway on schedule as a flagship project and to work on more strategic projects such as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Corridor and the “Two Countries, Twin Parks”.

The two leaders also had an in-depth exchange of views on bilateral relations and a wide range of international and regional issues of shared interest, and reached important consensus.

Earlier in the day, Widodo also met with Prime Minister Li Keqiang.

During the meeting, both Widodo and Li agreed to expand cooperation in development-oriented financing; strengthen cooperation in agriculture, health, poverty alleviation and food security; cultivate fresh growth points such as green development and digital economy; and materialize benchmark projects to implement the Global Development Initiative (GDI) at the bilateral and regional levels, to further accelerate the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“In the meeting with Prime Minister Li, I hope we can discuss various cooperation, especially in trade, investment, infrastructure, finance, funding and maritime affairs,” President Widodo said in a press statement. He added that trade value between both countries continues to increase and has already exceeded US$100 billion. “The opportunity to increase the number of trade is very large.”

China and Indonesia will accelerate the resumption of people-to-people exchanges, including the return of Indonesian students to China; open more direct flights; and beef up cooperation in such fields as education, tourism, youth and local exchanges. Both sides will also strengthen cooperation in vaccine and genomic research, development, and production. China will support Indonesia in its effort to set up a regional vaccine hub as well.

Both sides will strengthen communication between the agencies in charge of maritime affairs, enhance institutionalized arrangements, implement the projects supported by China-Indonesia Maritime Cooperation Fund (MCF), carry forward fishery cooperation such as the National Fish Barn project and utilize great potential of marine economy.

On multilateral cooperation

China and Indonesia will implement consensus reached on China-ASEAN Special Summit to Commemorate the 30th Anniversary of China-ASEAN Dialogue Relations, uphold open regionalism, and advance China-ASEAN Comprehensive Strategic Partnership for Peace, Security, Prosperity, Sustainable Development and Amity.

China reaffirms its support on ASEAN centrality in the evolving regional architecture and supports Indonesian ASEAN chairmanship in 2023. Both sides will promote mutually beneficial cooperation between the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP) and BRI, as well as promote collaboration of the GDI key areas and the AOIP’s priority areas, contributing to the implementation of the AOIP.

Both sides will continue to strengthen multilateralism. Indonesia takes note of the Global Security Initiative (GSI) and stands ready to work with the Chinese side in ensuring peace and stability through dialogue and diplomacy. China strongly supports Indonesia’s G20 Presidency and looks forward to a successful G20 Leaders Summit. Both sides will support APEC in achieving Putrajaya Vision 2040 of an open, dynamic, resilient, and peaceful Asia-Pacific community.

China appreciates Indonesia’s participation at the BRICS+ meetings under its BRICS Chairmanship and welcomes Indonesia’s willingness to cooperate with BRICS in the future.

During the visit, both sides renewed the MoU between China and Indonesia on Jointly Promoting Cooperation within the Framework on the Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road Initiative and Global Maritime Fulcrum, and signed a series of cooperation documents in such areas as research and development of vaccine and genomics, green development, custom information exchange and enforcement, cyber security capacity building, marine, and importation of Indonesian pineapples.

G20 and the Belt and Road Initiative

Teuku Rezasyah, a lecturer at Bandung-based Padjajaran University’s School of International Relations, emphasized the importance of Widodo’s visit to China to continue the expired Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the Belt and Road Initiative. The MoU may be extended and adjusted. According to him, Indonesians have criticized several issues.

China, for instance, benefits more from the workforce sector than Indonesia. “We need to seek a solution that brings a balance between Chinese and Indonesian workers,” he stated.

The second issue is the long-term bilateral relationship between China and Indonesia will involve the government and the people. Hopefully, more schools and educational institutions in Indonesia will teach Chinese language or Mandarin. Consequently, it will benefit Indonesian human resources working for Chinese companies.

“For example, in Morowali [Central Sulawesi], I observe that people from China work odd jobs, but their passports indicate that they are experts. Indonesian workers cannot read Chinese instructions for operating equipment, so special training is necessary for our vocational schools’ students to work for Chinese companies,” Rezasyah said.

In his opinion, the Belt and Road Initiative will soon relocate more projects from Russia and the Middle East as these countries are not yet ready to accept Chinese projects. At the same time, China wishes to roll its money. “If Indonesia provides the land, then China will invest,” he stated.

ASEAN+3 attendance in G20

Rezasyah also emphasized that both presidents must discuss ASEAN’s concerns about China’s stance in the South China Sea. Hopefully, both parties’ discussions will result in faster completion of the South China Sea code of conduct. “At the global level, they discussed the impact of the Russian and Ukrainian crises,” he continued.

Rezasyah said the attendance of leaders from China, Japan and South Korea would be important for Indonesia’s G20 presidency. He said that as a result of the United States pressure, the US allies may not attend the G20 meeting if Russian President Vladimir Putin is in attendance.

“I think Indonesia will request that China, Japan and South Korea attend the summit on behalf of ASEAN plus three brotherhoods,” he said, adding that South Korea and Japan would represent Western’s interests in talks with President Putin.

Gusty da Costa






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