China and Indonesia Join Hands to Boost Development

Solidarity is key to tackling global challenges

By Yuan Yanan, Guo Xixian

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indonesian President Joko Widodo watch together via video the operational trial of the Jakarta-Bandung High-Speed Railway in Bali, Indonesia, on November 16, 2022. (LI XUEREN)

On November 15 to 16, the 17th G20 Summit was held in Bali. Holding this year’s presidency of the G20, Indonesia proposed the theme of “Recover Together, Recover Stronger” and designated the three priority issues to be global health architecture, digital transformation, and sustainable energy transition. 

On October 20, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu said that China has always been an active participant in international economic cooperation and global economic governance. China hoped that the G20 summit would play a proactive role in multiple areas including enhancing international cooperation on the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, facilitating world economic recovery, and safeguarding global food and energy security, he added.

Facing each other across the sea, China and Indonesia are good neighbors, friends, and partners. Under the strategic guidance of Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indonesian President Joko Widodo, the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership between the two countries has undergone in-depth development, making the bilateral relationship a good example of close coordination and cooperation between two developing countries.

The state visit of Joko Widodo to China in July made the Indonesian President the first head of state China hosted after the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games, which demonstrated the importance and strategic significance of China-Indonesia relations. At the G20 summit, the two heads of state met again to facilitate higher-quality development of bilateral relations and cooperate on building a China-Indonesia community with a shared future. The two presidents also stand ready to work with leaders of other ASEAN member states to discuss ways to boost the global economy and accelerate economic recovery.

Concrete Cooperation

In October 2013, President Xi Jinping first introduced the initiative of 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road when delivering a speech at the People’s Representative Council of Indonesia and pronounced the establishment of China-Indonesia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.

Since 2013, China has been Indonesia’s largest trading partner for nine consecutive years and its top export destination for six years in a row. In 2021, bilateral trade between the two countries exceeded US$100 billion for the first time, marking a radical trend-bucking increase. As bilateral trade structure gradually balances, both sides have been deepening concrete cooperation and bringing more benefits to the peoples of the two countries.

“Trade between China and Indonesia involves multiple levels and areas,” said Abdul Alek Soelystio, chairman of Indonesian Chinese Entrepreneur Association. He noted that thanks to synergy between the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and Global Maritime Fulcrum (GMF), economic and trade cooperation between the two countries could become even closer. “I hope that more Chinese companies choose to build regional headquarters in Indonesia, cultural and people-to-people exchanges between the two sides become enhanced, and that the lives of the peoples of both China and Indonesia will be better.”

Since the implementation of the BRI, remarkable achievements have been made in the cooperation between China and Indonesia. A group of key projects including the Regional Comprehensive Economic Corridor and the “Two Countries, Twin Parks” have greatly boosted both bilateral cooperation and Indonesia’s development. The Jakarta-Bandung High-Speed Railway, a landmark project of China-Indonesia cooperation, shortens the travel time between Jakarta and Bandung to only 40 minutes from over three hours. The project facilitates local transportation and serves as a new example of the bilateral cooperation on infrastructure and production capacity.

A major developing country, Indonesia has huge demand for building infrastructure. Therefore, both countries have been exploring cooperation on infrastructure, with Chinese companies actively participating in building power plants, highways, railways, bridges, and ports in Indonesia. “President Xi’s visit to Indonesia mapped and energized further concrete cooperation between both countries,” said Marzuki Alie, former speaker of the People’s Representative Council of Indonesia.

President Xi Jinping commented that China and Indonesia “share similar ideals and beliefs.” In addition to similar ideals and beliefs, a common development stage and shared interests and future mean that both sides have huge potential for cooperation. In the future, the two sides will promote concrete cooperation in multiple fields including infrastructure, the digital economy, and industrial upgrading to pursue further win-win development.

‘Asian Moment’

Good China-Indonesia relations not only benefit both sides’ long-term development, but also play a critical role in Asia-Pacific and the world. Indonesia is ASEAN’s largest economy, and its population, land area, and economic size account for around 40 percent of ASEAN’s total. Indonesia plays an irreplaceable role in regional and global governance by representing emerging economies around the world.

The world is changing at an unprecedented scale, and major developing countries are becoming indispensable for global governance. While meeting with Joko Widodo on July 26, President Xi suggested that “China and Indonesia need to stand together in solidarity, fulfill the responsibilities of major developing countries, follow true multilateralism, uphold open regionalism, and contribute Oriental wisdom and Asia’s input to the development of global governance.”

This year, China and Indonesia hold the presidency of the 14th BRICS Summit and the presidency of the 17th G20 Summit, respectively. The world is embracing the “Asian Moment” in global governance.

Lu Kang, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the People’s Republic of China to the Republic of Indonesia, commented that China and Indonesia are both major developing countries. The two sides are committed to safeguarding the common interests of developing countries and contributing to regional and world peace, stability, and development. China stands ready to work with Indonesia to make contributions to global governance at the “Asian Moment” and demonstrate the China-Indonesia relationship’s strategic importance to the world.

G20 is not only a prominent world economic forum but a major global governance platform. China takes an active part in the work of G20 and stays committed to world economic cooperation and governance. China will join hands with other countries to boost sustainable development of the world economy.

Xu Liping, a researcher at National Institute of International Strategy, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (NIIS CASS), believes that since the establishment of China-Indonesia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, the two countries have forged a new synergy through four-pillar cooperation covering politics, economics, people-to-people exchange, and maritime projects. Solidarity and cooperation among countries is key to dealing with global challenges.

According to Djauhari Oratmangun, Ambassador of the Republic of Indonesia to the People’s Republic of China, the friendly partnership between China and Indonesia will enhance the synergy between the BRI and the GMF, demonstrate great cooperation potential between the two sides, build an example for regional development, and boost confidence in global governance.

While China and Indonesia boast a solid yet comprehensive basis for cooperation, the bilateral relationship is still embracing brighter prospects. The G20 summit was another opportunity for both sides to work together to enhance the quality and efficiency of bilateral cooperation.

The two countries are committed to actively participating in global governance, tackling global risks and challenges, advancing the Global Development Initiative, staying committed to strong, green, and healthy regional and global development, and contributing to regional and world inclusive growth in a big way.

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