China-Indonesia Collaboration Bolsters Regional Stability
Chinese Premier Li Qiang recently met with Indonesian President Joko Widodo in Jakarta. Both leaders are en route to the G20 Summit in India, post the conclusion of the ASEAN Summit. This meeting underscores the strengthening bilateral ties between China and Indonesia.
It marks the second significant interaction between the two countries in just two months. Previously, President Widodo had a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in China at the end of July.
Widodo acknowledged the strategic partnership with China, highlighting its successful outcomes over the years. He affirmed Indonesia’s commitment to the Bandung Spirit, emphasizing collaboration with China for regional progress and ensuring peace, stability, and prosperity, as reported by the Xinhua News Agency.
The meeting wasn’t just symbolic; tangible steps were taken. Several bilateral cooperation agreements spanning sectors such as industry, agriculture, fishery, e-commerce, and technological innovation were signed.
Experts observing the increasing interactions between high-ranking officials of both nations believe that the partnership has ascended to an unparalleled level. They anticipate that the depth and quality of their collaboration will expand in future. With Indonesia being the most populous country and the largest economy in ASEAN, this cooperation holds significant importance. Especially in the current geopolitical climate where the US is seen as attempting to create fissures in the Asia-Pacific region through the South China Sea issue.
During his discussion with President Widodo, Premier Li highlighted the robust development momentum of their bilateral relations, as cited by Xinhua. Li emphasized the importance of strategic trust, mutual support on vital issues, and collaboration to counter various challenges. He proposed expanded interactions and leveraging mechanisms like bilateral high-level dialogue and cooperation for greater outcomes.
Such interactions aren’t isolated events. Widodo had previously met President Xi in Chengdu, while participating in the 31st summer edition of the FISU World University Games. Xi conveyed China’s eagerness to bolster strategic ties with Indonesia. Their mutual goals include setting precedents for developing countries, fostering collaboration, and bringing stability to the region.
The historical trajectory of their relationship has been notable. The leaders have met multiple times at events like the APEC Leaders’ Meeting, G20 Osaka Summit, and the G20 Bali Summit. Additionally, since the pandemic’s onset, they’ve had six telephonic conversations. Luo Yongkun, an expert from the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, pointed out that the frequency of such interactions since 2013 indicates that the relationship has achieved a unique stature.
The year 2023 is noteworthy, marking the decennial of several milestones, such as the China-Indonesia comprehensive strategic partnership, Xi’s proposal for a closer China-ASEAN community, and the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Luo stressed that such frequent high-level exchanges are crucial for addressing shared concerns, especially in the current geopolitical environment.
Premier Li’s recent experiences in Indonesia, including a test ride on the Jakarta-Bandung High-Speed Railway (a landmark BRI project), only emphasized the importance of practical collaboration. Li shared plans to introduce flagship projects like the Regional Comprehensive Economic Corridor and “Two Countries, Twin Parks” under the BRI.
China’s commitment to Indonesia is evident in its support for Indonesia’s new capital’s construction, fostering innovative cooperative avenues such as digital economy and green development. They also plan to amplify cooperation in fields like agriculture, health, education, and tourism.
Both nations have already seen the dividends of their partnership, especially within the BRI framework. Gu Xiaosong, from Hainan Tropical Ocean University, highlighted the rising trade volumes. China is Indonesia’s dominant trading partner, with bilateral trade hitting $149.1 billion in 2022 – a 19.8% year-on-year increase. Notably, Indonesia has become China’s second-largest investment destination in ASEAN.
According to Gu, the potential for economic and trade expansion remains vast. Indonesia’s stature within ASEAN, given its significant population and economic contributions, means that smooth China-Indonesia ties have a ripple effect, positively influencing other ASEAN nations. Both countries have strategies poised for alignment – China’s 21st Century Maritime Silk Road and Indonesia’s maritime development strategy.
Analysts concur that while China seeks to strengthen ties with ASEAN members, the US seems to be taking a divergent route. The recent ASEAN Summit saw US President Joe Biden’s absence, yet he’s scheduled to attend the G20 summit and visit Vietnam. Luo opined that against the backdrop of the US trying to destabilize the Asia-Pacific region, the solidified Beijing-Jakarta alliance is a testament to their shared commitment to regional peace and prosperity. This collaboration sends a powerful message to other regional countries.
In the face of external interferences, Luo emphasized that the primary objective remains peaceful development, cooperation, and regional stability, a sentiment shared not just by China and Indonesia, but by the entire region.