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Work Hand in Hand for a New Era of China-Indonesia Friendship
By Xiao Qian, Chinese Ambassador to Indonesia

Yesterday April 13th marks the 70th anniversary of China-Indonesia diplomatic relations. To celebrate this joyous occasion, President Xi Jinping and President Joko Widodo have exchanged congratulatory letters and both countries launched commemorative stamps and envelopes.

Both China and Indonesia are ancient Asian civilizations. Through the ages, people of our two nations had traded goods, shared knowledge, and exchanged cultures along the ancient Maritime Silkroad. Together, they have composed one piece after another of beautiful music about their exchanges and interactions over the centuries. On his seven voyages in the 15th century, Chinese navigator Zheng He visited almost all the major islands of the Indonesian archipelago, leaving behind myriads of relics and folklore and becoming a symbol of friendship between our peoples.

Our peoples sympathized with and supported each other in their respective struggle for national independence and liberation in early 20th century. In 1950, Indonesia was among the first countries to establish diplomatic relations with China shortly after its founding. In 1955, China and Indonesia, together with other Asian and African countries, jointly initiated the Bandung Spirit at the Bandung Conference. With the principles of peaceful coexistence and seeking common ground while shelving differences at its core, the Bandung Spirit remains an important norm governing state-to-state relations. Through solidarity and mutual support, China and ASEAN countries including Indonesia weathered the storm of 1998 Asian financial crisis.

In this new century, bilateral relationship has grown by leaps and bounds from establishing strategic partnership in 2005 to comprehensive strategic partnership in 2013. Our bilateral relations have embarked on a fast lane of growth.

Deepening political mutual trust. Over the years, President Xi paid two visits to Indonesia and President Jokowi 5 visits to China. Together, they held 8 bilateral meetings and exchanged 4 phone-calls, reaching important consensus on bilateral ties and charting the course for future relations. Two countries have established dialogue mechanisms at vice-premier level and maintained frequent exchanges between governments, parliaments and political parties, which have facilitated cooperation across the board.

Greater synergy between development strategies. The Initiative of 21st Century Maritime Silkroad was first announced in Indonesia. In 2018, the two governments signed MoU on jointly building the Belt and Road and Global Maritime Fulcrum. Steady progress is being made in Jakarta-Bandung high-speed rail, the first of its kind in Southeast Asia. Intergovernmental cooperation on Regional Comprehensive Economic Corridors is well underway. China also plays a facilitating role in Indonesia’s industrialization drive.

Increasingly close cooperation for mutual benefits. China has been Indonesia’s top trading partner for 9 consecutive years. Two-way trade reached US$79.4 billion in 2019, up by 10-fold since 2000. In just 5 years, China’s local investment ranking jumped from 9th to 2nd place. Together, we have built Indonesia’s longest cross-sea bridge, Surabaya-Madura Bridge and second largest dam, Jatigede Dam. Morowali Industrial Park has turned Indonesia into the 2nd largest exporter of stainless steel in just 5 years.

Burgeoning people-to-people exchanges. In recent years, Indonesia has received an annual average of over two million visits by Chinese citizens, making China a major source of foreign tourists in Indonesia. China is also the second largest host of Indonesian students totaling over ten thousands. Through multiple visits to China, major local Islamic organizations have actively promoted bilateral cultural and religious exchanges. The two giant pandas, Huchun and Caitao, who settled in Bogor, have become new envoys of friendship between our peoples.

Close coordination on multilateral affairs. Both China and Indonesia are major countries in Asia and members of G20, which makes our bilateral relations go beyond bilateral context. We are making concerted efforts to push forward China-ASEAN cooperation, uphold peace and stability in South China Sea, support Palestinians in their cause to liberation, safeguard free trade and multilateralism and jointly advance the interests of developing nations.

As both China and Indonesia are battling the COVID-19 outbreak, our presidents have exchanged multiple phone calls and letters to offer sympathies and mutual support, and jointly attended the G20 Summit on COVID-19. When China was in the depths of this outbreak, it has received cordial sympathies and generous donations from the Indonesian government and people across the society. The Chinese side, in return, has spared no efforts in helping Indonesia’s fight against the pandemic by providing much-needed medical supplies and sharing best experience and practice on prevention and treatment. A friend in need is a friend indeed. Our action once again testifies to our profound friendship of solidarity and mutual assistance in times of adversity.

For 7 decades, our relationship has kept surging forward; for 7 decades, we striven forward with one heart and one mind. The world today is undergoing profound changes. China is now working to build a moderately prosperous society in all respects, while Indonesia endeavors to become one of the world’s 5 largest economies. China-Indonesia relations now stand at a new starting point, facing new opportunities. As remarked by President Xi Jinping in his congratulatory letter to President Jokowi, China and Indonesia share extensive common interests at bilateral, regional and multilateral levels and enormous potential for future cooperation.

We should continue to promote high-level exchanges and bring forward bilateral relations from a strategic and long-term perspective. While promoting greater synergy between BRI and Global Maritime Fulcrum, practical cooperation shall be broadened to even more sectors, all to the benefit of the two peoples. We look forward to stronger exchanges covering culture, education, religion and youth to bring our friendship closer and pass it on from generation to generation. Stronger coordination on global and regional issues is needed to shape a new type of international relations featuring mutual respect, fairness, justice and win-win cooperation and to build a community with a shared future for mankind.

Jauh di mata, dekat di hati(Though living far, it is close to my heart). Chinese tradition advocates peace is more precious than anything else. Chinese people seek good neighborliness and harmony among all nations. Likewise, Indonesia advocates musyawarah(consensus), binneka tunaggal ika(unity in diversity) and gotong royong(mutual assistance). I believe with such similar cultural genes, China and Indonesia will surely enjoy a sound relation built on equal footing and mutual respect, understand and accommodate each other, seek common ground while shelving differences and usher in a new era for bilateral ties featuring win-win cooperation.

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