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Jointly Set Sail on The Maritime Silk Road Embark on A New Journey of China-Indonesia Relations
——Signed Article of Ambassador Xiao Qian

13th April, 2018 marks the 68th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Indonesia. Ambassador Xiao Qian published a signed article on chinadailyasia.com, introduced the latest achievements of the development of China-Indonesia relations, wished China-Indonesia relations an even brighter future. The full text is as follows:

Jointly set sail on the Maritime Silk Road embark

on a new journey of China-Indonesia relations

China and Indonesia enjoy long-standing friendship as neighbors across the sea. The ancient Maritime Silk Road was opened over 2,000 years ago as a fleet of cargo-laden merchant ships set sail from southeast coast of China, raising the curtain on friendly exchanges between China and Indonesia. Faxian and Yijing, both prominent monks from ancient China, traveled to Sumatra via the Silk Road for Buddhist exchanges. During his seven naval expeditions, the great Chinese navigator Zheng He led his fleet to Java, Sumatra and Kalimantan of Indonesia. His adventure became a tale told far and wide. With ships coming and going, the two countries not only completed the exchange of goods, but also bolstered mutual learning between cultures.

In addition to being an important hub along the ancient Maritime Silk Road, Indonesia bore witness to the proposing of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road Initiative. In his address to the Indonesian House of Representatives in 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping set forth the initiative for the first time. Accounting for around 40% of ASEAN’s total landmass, population and GDP, Indonesia is ASEAN’s largest member state and a major driver of regional and even global economic growth. Both as major developing countries striving to promote development and improve livelihood for their people, China and Indonesia are natural partners as they complement each other in infrastructure, industrial capacity, finance and other sectors. In recent years, under the strong leadership of President Xi Jinping and President Joko Widodo, the two countries have focused on promoting synergy between the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road Initiative with Global Maritime Fulcrum Strategy, deepened cooperation and exchanges across the board and elevated bilateral relations to new heights.

The two countries have maintained frequent high-level exchanges and strengthened mutual trust and confidence. Within three years, President Joko Widodo has visited China five times and held six bilateral meetings with President Xi Jinping. Last year, President Joko Widodo attended the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF) held in China, during which the two Presidents reached important consensus on further synergizing development strategies and expanding practical cooperation across all sectors. The two countries have maintained comprehensive dialogues at all levels, and the bilateral relationship has gained vigorous momentum and all-around growth.

The bilateral business ties and practical cooperation have grown from strength to strength. In 2017, the two-way trade between China and Indonesia registered a year-on-year growth rate of 18.3%, reaching 63.3 billion US dollars. In particular, Indonesian export to China increased by 33%, leading to a more balanced trade relationship. The annual increase rate of Chinese investment in Indonesia in 2017 surpassed 30%, with total volume reaching 3.4 billion US dollars. Major cooperation projects including the Jakarta-Bandung High-speed Railway are in full swing while new growth drivers keep emerging in infrastructure, industrial capacity, digital economy and other sectors.

The thriving people-to-people and cultural exchanges have further deepened the mutual understanding between the peoples. In 2017, the number of Chinese tourists to Indonesia reached 2.06 million, an increase of 275% from 2013, ranking China as the largest source of overseas tourists of Indonesia. In addition to Bali, tourist attractions such as Manado, Lombok and Raja Ampat have gained increasing popularity. China currently receives more than 14,000 Indonesian students and has become Indonesia’s second most popular overseas education destination. Chinese giant pandas, Cai Tao and Hu Chun, have made their homes in Indonesia, building yet another bridge of friendship between the peoples.

The fruitful bilateral cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) gave expression to the win-win nature and strong vitality of BRI. For 5 years, the BRI has adhered to the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits. Offering new models and solutions to global economic cooperation, the BRI has re-vitalized a new round of globalization. As an open, transparent and inclusive international cooperation platform, the BRI draws a clear distinction from zero-sum game and geopolitical competition, and is not directed against any other country. Instead, it focuses on the fundamental issue of development, and strive to help countries along the route to build up infrastructure to attract investment and enhance their ability to develop on their own. It is widely welcomed by countries along the route including Indonesia as well as the rest of the international community. During the BRF, President Joko Widodo proposed the initiative of Regional Integrated Economic Corridors, as a new landmark project in the joint efforts to synergize respective development strategies.

The 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, which was held late last year, laid out the blueprint for China’s future development. It marks the beginning of a new era for China and offers new opportunities for China-Indonesia relations. “Happiness is achieved through hard work.” These words remind us to spare no efforts and approach our work with firm footing, so as to translate the blueprint into reality, either it is the BRI or synergizing of development strategies. Looking ahead, China is ready to work with Indonesia to earnestly implement the important consensus reached between the two Presidents, push forward major cooperation projects including the Jakarta-Bandung High-speed Railway, strengthen communication on the Initiative of Regional Integrated Economic Corridors and explore possible priorities and approaches of cooperation, so as to foster new highlights in bilateral cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative.

I believe with our joint efforts, the China-Indonesia relationship will continue to sail towards an even brighter future.

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