China-Indonesia Mutual Trust and Interaction Grows Steadily
Being a country with big population, Indonesia shares a lot of similarities with China in its economic development. 2015 marks the 65th anniversary of the establishment of China-Indonesia diplomatic ties. Over these 65 years, the two sides have deepened the cooperation in all fields and realized mutual benefits. In the current situation of establishing the “One Belt, One Road” and AIIB, how could China and Indonesia deepen their cooperation and bring more benefits for their people?
On such an occasion, the China-ASEAN Panorama Magazine had an interview with Indonesian Ambassador to China H.E. Mr. SOEGENG RAHARDJO, who summarized the achievements made between the two countries and gave his opinions on the future directions and opportunities for cooperation.
China-ASEAN Panorama: This year marks the 65th anniversary of the establishment of China-Indonesia diplomatic ties. During these 65 years, bilateral relations between the two sides have maintained good development momentum. How do you evaluate the current China-Indonesia relations? And what commemorative activities will be held to celebrate this important event?
SOEGENG RAHARDJO: To highlight the celebrations for the 65th anniversary of diplomatic relations, President Joko Widodo carried out a State Visit to China in March this year, and participated at Boao Forum for Asia. In April, 2015, President Xi Jingping visited Indonesia in participation of the 60th Commemoration of the Asian-African Conference in Jakarta and Bandung. These exchanges of visit will indeed provide a boost for common efforts in further strengthening bilateral relations. The Embassy will be organizing numerous activities involving Chinese and Indonesian students. For example, I will be giving lectures and having discussions with students in a number of Chinese universities.
There is also a China-Indonesia film coproduced presently. Our hope is that the movie will be out before the end of the year, so that more Chinese people will know about Indonesia.
China-ASEAN Panorama: Among the ASEAN countries, Indonesia is the third largest trade partner of China. In what fields would Indonesia enhance the cooperation with China to further promote the bilateral economic and trade relations?
SOEGENG RAHARDJO: With the elevation of our bilateral cooperation status to comprehensive strategic partnership in 2013, Indonesia and China have moved towards greater, long-term partnership based on mutual trust and increased interaction at all levels of government and society.
As a follow-up to the meeting with President Xi Jingping in Beijing in November last year, we have held the First Indonesia-China High-Level Economic Dialogue in January 2015. Our hope is that this new mechanism would further pave the way for more intense economic cooperation, including in facilitating greater trade cooperation.
In addition, when President Joko Widodo paid a State Visit to China last March 2015, both leaders pledged to actively implement The Five-Year Development Plan of China-Indonesia Economic and Trade Cooperation. The two leaders also pushed for the finalization of the List of Priority Projects with a view to bolstering longterm investments as well as a healthy, balanced and sustainable trade cooperation.
China-ASEAN Panorama: 2014 is “China-ASEAN Cultural Exchange Year”. What achievements have been made between China and Indonesia in cultural cooperation? What moves will Indonesia take to boost the bilateral cultural exchanges?
SOEGENG RAHARDJO: You may have heard of our program, Indonesian Arts and Culture Scholarship, which is dedicated to enhancing cross-cultural communication between people from several countries, especially the young generation. I believe, by participating in these programs, Chinese youths will get a deeper understanding of the Indonesian traditional culture and community.
I also believe that people-to-people contacts could be enhanced through tourism cooperation. This year, Indonesia has targeted the potential visits of 2 million Chinese tourists. This would require hard work, but I am confident that it is a reachable target.
CAEXPO is Expected to Provide Good Services for ASEAN Businessmen
China-ASEAN Panorama: Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s proposal to build Indonesia into a maritime power and Chinese President Xi Jinping’s initiative of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road conform to each other to a very high extent. Meanwhile, 2015 is the “Year of China-ASEAN Maritime Cooperation”. What should Indonesia and China do to construct the new Maritime Silk Road, conduct mar i t ime cooperat ion and develop maritime economy? What would be the challenges and opportunities?
SOEGENG RAHARDJO: The similarity in visions showed by President Joko Widodo and President Xi Jinping, opens vast area for cooperation between Indonesia and China. In particular, both sides envision greater connectivity in the waters of the Asia Pacific region.
China’s interest in establishing the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road could provide a platform for cooperation in strengthening Indonesia’s maritime connectivity infrastructure, such as the buildings, power plants, bridges, and upgrading of Indonesia’s seaports, airports, mass transportations, highways and railways.
Greater maritime cooperation also opens opportunities for realizing the economic potentials of Indonesia. This could be developed through building transportation infrastructure and industrial areas, thus connecting the western parts of Indonesia to China’s economy.
I think that whatever challenges we face, we must be able to turn them into opportunities. In this regard, Indonesia and China have to maximize the benefit of these new initiatives.
China-ASEAN Panorama: China-ASEAN Expo (CAEXPO) is an efficient carrier for China-ASEAN trade and investment facilitation. It has become the best platform for China-ASEAN cooperation after 11 years’ development. Your comments on the role of CAEXPO in boosting bilateral high-level exchanges, trade cooperation as well as cultural exchanges. How would Indonesia and China use the CAEXPO to further promote bilateral cooperation?
SOEGENG RAHARDJO: Since both leaders have agreed to implement the related free trade agreements between China and ASEAN, we hope both countries will have more opportunities to improve overall market access conditions. Regarding this issue, both countries also need to enhance the positive influence of the China-ASEAN Expo and provide better services to the traveling merchants of ASEAN countries.
Economically, China’s engagement with ASEAN countries, in particular Indonesia, continues to thrive. Currently, China stands as the biggest trading partner of ASEAN and ASEAN has become the third trading partner of China.
Indonesia Hopes to Establish an AIIB Branch
China-ASEAN Panorama: By April 15, with the joining of European countries like the UK, the number of founding members of the China-proposed AIIB (Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank) reached 57. And Indonesia is one of the first batch of founding members. What influence has the AIIB exerted on the infrastructure construction of the Indonesia and how would the Indonesia hope to participate in the construction of the AIIB?
SOEGENG RAHARDJO: I think that since the beginning of the discussion about the establishment of AIIB, Indonesia has actively participated in the discussion, even that Indonesia is one of the founding members of AIIB. So I will hope that the AIIB can be a financial institution to promote development in Asia. And the second point, it also can expedite the economic development for the Asian countries. So, from that kind of activities, I think that all the Asian countries can benefit from the operation of the AIIB. Jakarta is capital of ASEAN. I will appreciate then to propose to members of AIIB that they should consider very carefully that Indonesia also be one of the offices of the AIIB. This is the interest of Indonesia to play more roles in order to get lots of opportunities, especially to expedite the development in the ASEAN region through the AIIB.
Source from CHINA-ASEAN PANORAMA
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