China, RI Take Ties to New Level

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First contact: Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (right) talks to visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping before a meeting at the Merdeka Palace in Jakarta on Wednesday. Xi is making his first visit to Southeast Asia since taking office, arriving on Wednesday in Indonesia to boost ties and economic partnerships with the region’s biggest country. (AP/Achmad Ibrahim)

Chinese President Xi Jinping, the leader of the world’s second-largest economy met with Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the president of the world’s third-largest democracy in Jakarta on Wednesday.

First contact: Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (right) talks to visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping before a meeting at the Merdeka Palace in Jakarta on Wednesday. Xi is making his first visit to Southeast Asia since taking office, arriving on Wednesday in Indonesia to boost ties and economic partnerships with the region’s biggest country. (AP/Achmad Ibrahim)
First contact: Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (right) talks to visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping before a meeting at the Merdeka Palace in Jakarta on Wednesday. Xi is making his first visit to Southeast Asia since taking office, arriving on Wednesday in Indonesia to boost ties and economic partnerships with the region’s biggest country. (AP/Achmad Ibrahim)

President Xi, who will also attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Bali next week, arrived in Jakarta on Wednesday at the start of a two-day state visit and immediately held the bilateral summit with President Yudhoyono at the Merdeka Palace. They discussed key issues of mutual concern, mostly regarding the economy.

Creating history, the Chinese leader will also address the House of Representatives on Thursday, the speech will be broadcast live by major Chinese TV and radio stations. It will be the first time for Xi to deliver a speech at a foreign parliament. It will also be the first time the House has hosted such an event.

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“With the comprehensive strategic partnership under President Xi’s leadership, I believe both countries can increase cooperation in various sectors in the future,” Yudhoyono told a joint press conference after the bilateral dialogue on Wednesday.

Xi meanwhile confirmed that they had both agreed “to push for new targets of cooperation for the benefit of our peoples.”

Xi’s visit will highlight economic and investment cooperation as the two countries sign six agreements, mostly on economic issues, including five-yearly development programs in the two countries, industrial zone development partnerships, maritime and fisheries, culture and climatology and meteorology.

Indonesia froze diplomatic ties with China following the alleged coup attempt by the Indonesian Communist Party in 1965. Their relationship was restored in 1990.

Indonesia and China, both G20 members, have enjoyed flourishing relations, particularly after the signing of a strategic partnership accord in 2005. Two-way trade in 2012 amounted to US$66.2 billion, up from $26.6 billion in 2009, according to the Chinese government’s data.

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China is currently Indonesia’s largest trading partner and the trade is expected to reach $80 billion in 2015. The value of Chinese investments in Indonesia was recorded at $2.02 billion in 2012.

The Chinese Ministry of Commerce’s deputy director general of Asian affairs, Liang Wentao, has said that he expects Indonesia to become China’s largest trading partner among the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries. Liang also predicted that ASEAN would soon become China’s second largest trading partner surpassing the US in the next few years.

Both leaders also hope that the new level of partnership will not only reflect their close bilateral relationship, but also regional and global relations.

“As strategic partners, we recognize the importance of boosting cooperation in many sectors and not only at the bilateral level, but also at the regional and global levels as we have similar important roles there,” Yudhoyono said.

“We also agreed to deepen the ASEAN-China relationship,” Xi added.

It appeared that ongoing territorial disputes in the South China Sea were not on the agenda. Indonesia is not a a claimant state in any of the disputes.

“There was no direct discussion [during the talks], but there will be a document drawn up later on,” Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa told reporters after the meeting.

Indonesia will continue to push for peaceful diplomatic measures.

“The discussion is still underway,” Marty added. (Ina Parlina, The Jakarta Post,)

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