Embarking on New Voyage of China-Indonesia Friendly Cooperation
Li Keqiang, Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China
The vast ocean between China and Indonesia has forged natural bonds of friendship linking our peoples, bearing witness to our exchanges over the centuries. Though geographically far away, Indonesia has been a country close to my heart. I am glad to make it the first stop of my first overseas trip as Chinese Premier in my new term. I look forward to coming back to this archipelagic country after a long interval of ten years to meet old friends and make new ones.
As was often described in Chinese poetry, white-capped waves ferried merchant ships across the emerald sea with fiery clouds lighting up the evening sky. For more than 2,000 years, our ancestors traveled across the ocean and opened the door to engagement between the two countries. On his seven voyages in the 15th century, Chinese navigator Zheng He visited the Indonesian archipelago, bringing exquisite porcelain and silk and forging an invaluable bond of peace and friendship with the local people. In the 1950s, Indonesia became one of the first countries to establish diplomatic ties with New China.
Entering the 21st century, the ocean has once again brought us together for win-win cooperation. In his visit to Indonesia in 2013, President Xi Jinping put forward the initiative of building the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. Since then, a strong synergy has been developed between this initiative and Indonesia’s vision for the Global Maritime Fulcrum, re-energizing the centuries-old sea lanes and our shared dream of harnessing the ocean to the benefit of our peoples. China will work with Indonesia to further enhance the complementarity between our development strategies. China will support Indonesia in building the regional economic corridors and upgrading its infrastructure and industrial development to make the maritime bond between us even stronger.
Our business cooperation is cleaving waves and surging forward. China has been Indonesia’s largest trading partner for seven years in a row. In 2017, two-way trade reached US$63.3 billion, up 18% year-on-year. China has become Indonesia’s main source of foreign investment, and the fast-growing Chinese investment has created many new jobs for the local people. Good results have been achieved in building the China-Indonesia industrial parks and steady progress is being made in the Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway. The highly popular mobile payment and sharing economy in China have been introduced into the Indonesian market, adding new drivers of growth to our bilateral cooperation.
Our people-to-people exchange is advancing in full sail. China has become Indonesia’s largest source of foreign tourists and second largest host of Indonesian students. More and more young Indonesians have chosen to work, study or open their own businesses in China. The two giant pandas, Huchun and Caitao, who settled in Bogor last year, have become new envoys of friendship between our peoples. We look forward to stronger exchanges covering education, culture, youth, media and think tanks to bring our peoples even closer.
This year coincides with the fifth anniversary of China-Indonesia comprehensive strategic partnership. As major developing countries and members of the G20, cooperation between our two countries will not only bring real benefits to our peoples but also contribute significantly to regional and global stability and prosperity. China is ready to work with Indonesia to push forward the regional integration process and strengthen coordination and collaboration at the UN and other multilateral fora to uphold the interests of developing countries and promote a new form of international relations featuring mutual respect, fairness, justice and win-win cooperation.
This year also marks the 15th anniversary of the China-ASEAN strategic partnership. During my stay in Jakarta, I will visit the ASEAN Secretariat to underscore China’s commitment to its relations with ASEAN. Taking ASEAN as a high priority in its neighborhood diplomacy, China has been a staunch supporter of ASEAN community building and ASEAN centrality in East Asian cooperation. China will work with ASEAN to develop a joint vision for China-ASEAN relations, forge greater synergy between our development strategies, and advance all-round cooperation to take this strategic partnership to a higher level. China is committed to closer maritime cooperation to make the South China Sea a sea of peace, friendship and cooperation for the benefit of all peoples in the region.
China is keen to work with ASEAN to uphold the multilateral trading system, promote trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, push for early conclusion of negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and move toward the goal of an East Asia economic community.
China and Indonesia are now poised to set sail for a new voyage of friendship and cooperation. As an Indonesian proverb tells us, if you are sufficiently determined to achieve something, then you will find a way of doing so. I am confident that with full commitment and concerted efforts, the ship of China-Indonesia friendly cooperation will brave winds and waves and sail toward a bright future.