JAKARTA — Premier Li Keqiang concluded his official visit to Indonesia on May 8, reinforcing bilateral ties and partnership between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and sending a strong message of defending economic globalization and free trade.
Ranging from increased imports of Indonesia’s products and synergy of development strategies to consensus on South China Sea, Premier Li’s visit saw a series of agreements and statements, demonstrating China’s willingness to build a close community of shared future with its southeast Asian neighbors and share its development opportunities with all.
Indonesia was the first stop on Premier Li’s first overseas trip since the new cabinet took office in March, highlighting the country’s importance in China’s diplomacy.
Premier Li arrived in Jakarta on May 6. His tight schedule on May 7 started with laying a wreath at the Kalibata National Heroes Cemetery. Then he headed for Bogor to meet with Indonesian President Joko Widodo.
The Premier suggested Beijing and Jakarta build up three pillars of all-field cooperation at bilateral, regional and global levels within the framework of comprehensive strategic partnership established in 2013 when President Xi Jinping paid a state visit to Indonesia.
Promoting the synergy of the Belt and Road Initiative and Indonesia’s “Global Maritime Fulcrum” vision was high on the agenda of Premier Li’s visit.
The two sides should push forward the landmark projects of Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway and Indonesia’s regional comprehensive economic corridors, so that the two peoples can enjoy the social and economic benefits at an early date, Premier Li told President Widodo.
Pledges are backed by concrete measure that Premier Li proposed in various occasions: more cooperation in ports, maritime economy, industrial processing and overseas warehouses; more imports of palm oil, coffee and fruits; more direct flights and the goal of three million mutual visits annually ...
For Widodo, the cooperation between Indonesia and China, which is based on respect of international laws, not only caters to the interests of the two countries, but also bears great significance to the world’s peace and development.
The president’s remarks were echoed by Premier Li who addressed the China-Indonesia Business Summit later in the day.
“Our partnership, which rests on solid complementarity and is win-win in nature, is well-positioned to be stable, resilient and lasting in the context of a changing international environment,” he said at the summit attended by Indonesia Vice President Jusuf Kalla.
In a joint statement between the governments of the two countries, both sides said they were “optimistic about further accomplishments in the two countries’ national development and brighter future of China-Indonesia bilateral ties.”
As major developing countries, China and Indonesia shoulder responsibilities of contributing to global governance and building a new type of international relations, said Xu Liping, a researcher with the National Institute of International Strategy at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. “Premier Li’s visit has boosted bilateral pragmatic cooperation that sets a good example of cooperation in the region and beyond.”
CHINA-ASEAN COMMUNITY WITH SHARED FUTURE
China has always put ASEAN as a priority for its foreign policy with neighboring countries and stood for friendly cooperation with ASEAN.
Calling ASEAN a good neighbor, friend and partner of China, Premier Li reassured that China supported the establishment of the ASEAN Community, ASEAN’s central position in regional cooperation and the community’s greater role in building an open and inclusive regional framework.
To build a closer community with shared future with ASEAN, China is willing to be a partner of ASEAN for common development, peace-building, opening-up and win-win cooperation, innovation as well as inclusiveness and mutual learning, Premier Li said when addressing a launching ceremony of the 15th Anniversary of China-ASEAN strategic partnership.
He said China would actively implement the “3+X Cooperation Framework” with ASEAN, strengthen the alignment between the Belt and Road Initiative and ASEAN’s development strategy, construct the economic development belt along the Lancang-Mekong River Basin and increase cooperation with BIMP-EAGA countries.
The BIMP-EAGA includes Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines. The BIMP-EAGA, or the East ASEAN Growth Area, was launched in 1994 by the four countries to accelerate and balance their economic development.
China is willing to work with the ASEAN countries to maintain positive developments in the South China Sea, resolve differences through friendly consultations, steadily advance the negotiation on the Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea, so as to make it “a sea of peace, friendship and cooperation,” said the Premier.
ASEAN Secretary-General Lim Jock Hoi said that China has always been an important partner of ASEAN.
China’s support has strongly promoted the integration of ASEAN, helped ASEAN narrow its internal development gap and deepened the friendship between the peoples of the two sides, Lim said.
CHORUS OF FREE TRADE
During his visit, the Premier reaffirmed China’s commitment to trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, especially so when economic globalization is encountering the headwinds of rising protectionism and unilateralism.
“Both China and Indonesia believe in globalization and free trade,” Premier Li told more than 600 business people at the China-Indonesia business summit. “We both support the rules-based multilateral trading regime and stand for equal consultation in settling trade disputes.”
“China does not go after trade surpluses,” he said, noting that last year saw Indonesia’s deficit with China decrease by 42 percent over the previous year, and bilateral trade achieved overall balance in the first quarter of this year.
China is ready to buy more competitive goods from Indonesia, the Premier said.
His announcement of increasing the import of Indonesia’s palm oil was followed by applauds from the audience at the summit.
As part of the fruits of Premier Li’s visit, both sides have agreed to enhance cooperation on customs, inspection and quarantine, and mutual recognition of QC certification to improve trade facilitation.
The two sides have also agreed to boost cross-border e-commerce to facilitate the cooperation between small and medium-sized enterprises.
Premier Li also pledged to promote free trade with ASEAN, injecting positive energy into the world economy.
He called for joint efforts to make substantive breakthroughs in the negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a free-trade agreement (FTA) scheme of the 10 ASEAN member states and its FTA partners, namely China, Australia, India, Japan, the Republic of Korea (ROK) and New Zealand.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of China’s reform and opening up. He stressed China would open up to a higher level and achieve mutual benefits and win-win results to a deeper level.” A more prosperous and open China will certainly bring greater opportunities for the development of all countries in the world.”
After the trip to Indonesia, Premier Li will leave for Japan on May 8 to attend the 7th China-Japan-ROK leaders’ meeting and pay an official visit to Japan.