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Keynote Speech by Chinese Ambassador Xiao Qian at Seminar "Connecting Indonesia and China through Belt and Road Initiative"
2019/03/27

Your Excellency Bapak Thomas Lembong, Chairman of the Investment Coordinating Board,

Your Excellency Ibu Mari Pangestu, Former Minister of Trade and Former Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy,

Mr. Rino Donosepoetro, CEO of Standard Chartered Bank Indonesia,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear Friends,

 

      Selamat Pagi!

      To begin with, I would like to thank the Standard Chartered Bank for hosting this seminar and inviting me as one of the keynote speaker. I am glad to meet with all of you present today, to review the fruitful cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) over the past five years and look to the bright future where China and Indonesia continue to synergize development strategies and jointly build the BRI.

      As you may already know, it was here in Indonesia in 2013 that the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road Initiative was first proposed by President Xi Jinping during his state visit to Indonesia. To achieve national rejuvenation of China and Indonesia, President Xi and President Joko Widodo have reached the important consensus on promoting synergy between China's BRI and Indonesia's "Global Maritime Fulcrum" Vision. Since then, China-Indonesia relations have entered the fast track of development for mutual benefit and win-win results. The Jakarta-Bandung High-speed Rail is the signature project of the first phase of synergizing strategies, and first high speed rail in Southeast Asia. The project has now entered the stage of full construction and implementation. In the past year, I have visited construction sites of the high-speed rail 8 times. Steady progress has been made in land acquisition and resettlement. Construction has began on more than 50 work sites including quite a number of bridges and tunnels. The large-scale tunnel boring machine has been installed and commissioned. Concrete-pouring of the first box beam was completed. Construction is making more and more visible progress. We hope the Jakarta-Bandung High-speed Rail will be completed on an early date. By then, the 3-5 hour or more commuting time by car between the two cities will be shortened to less than 40 minutes, which will not only facilitate the exchange of personnel and also help form an economic corridor along the high-speed rail.

      During Chinese Premier Li Keqiang's visit to Indonesia last May, the two countries signed an intergovernmental MoU on Regional Comprehensive Economic Corridors which is the signature project of the second phase of synergizing development strategies between China and Indonesia. The day after tomorrow, the first meeting of the China-Indonesia Steering Committee on Regional Comprehensive Economic Corridor will be held in Bali. This project will greatly stimulate growth in the outlaying islands and reinvigorate the alignment of development strategies.

      The positive trend of China-Indonesia cooperation is the epitome of China's BRI cooperation with so many friendly countries and regions. Over the past few years, more and more countries have aligned their respective strategies with the BRI which unleashed cooperation potentials and generated new drivers for the global economy. The BRI principle of joint consultation and collaboration for shared benefits has been incorporated into the outcome documents of major international mechanisms including the UN. To date, more than 140 countries and international organizations have signed BRI agreements with China. Trade between China and the BRI partner countries has exceeded US$6 trillion. The more than US$80 billion of Chinese investment in these countries has created more than 240,000 local jobs.

      In addition to being a grand vision for cooperation, the BRI also aims to improve people's livelihood. It is not just a blueprint for cooperation among countries, but also enables ordinary families and people to realize their dreams. Ms. Rofiah was born in Surabaya in 1995. She now works for the Jakarta-Bandung High-speed Rail project. After graduating from the Engineering Department of Yellow River Conservancy Technical Institute in 2016, she joined the project as a translator and now has become a white-collar employee. Her career grows together with the project. Three months after joining the company, Rofiah bought her mother a car, a dream she had since her childhood. Now, her biggest dream is that one day the high-speed rail would not only be completed at a early date, but also extended to her hometown in Surabaya.

      Within past five years, the Qingshan Morowali Industrial Park in Sulawesi has reached the production target of 3 million tons of stainless steel per year, making Indonesia the second largest stainless steel producer in the world. Wangji, a 27-year-old local young man, became a crane driver in the industrial park after several months of pre-job training. His monthly salary has risen to eight million rupiah. The whole family was happy for him. There are more than 28,000 local employees just like Wangji working in the park, and the number keeps growing.

      Another example is Huawei. Starting with only 5 employees in 2000, Huawei Indonesia now has over 2,500 staff. And local staff accounts for 87% of the workforce. The company indirectly generates more than 20,000 jobs each year. In 2017, Huawei launched the Smart Generation Program in collaboration with 8 Indonesian universities to share the latest technologies and applications. It has provided internships and job opportunities for more than 3,000 outstanding local university students. In 2018, in response to President Jokowi's call for developing vocational education, Huawei provided free ICT training for thousands of students from 12 local vocational schools, all in an effort to help Indonesia cultivate its own engineers. Huawei has additionally invited more than 100 Indonesian students to go to China to study communications, which is a valuable opportunity for them to enhance their abilities and expand their horizons.

 

      Ladies and gentlemen,

      If we look back at the past five years of BRI cooperation and ask what it has brought to Indonesia, I believe the above stories have answered the question. It has stimulated investment and cooperation, created opportunities and dreams, advanced growth and progress, and brought hope and aspiration.

      Nonetheless, there are still people in the world criticizing China for disregarding other countries' liabilities and solvency when issuing loans, and adding to the debt of some countries, in an attempt to gain control over projects. Such accusation is groundless.

      China always sticks to an economic benefit-oriented approach, extending loans based on the real conditions of the relevant countries, supporting project construction and avoiding creating more debt risks or increasing fiscal burdens of the host countries. To ensure sustainable financing, 27 countries including China have jointly formulated the "Guiding Principles on Financing the Development of the Belt and Road", which aims to foster a transparent, friendly, non-discriminatory and foreseeable financing environment and gives equal consideration to debt sustainability, so as to make steady and sustained progress in building the BRI.

      It should be noted that the regions along the BRI have long faced with a significant financing gap, which has always been a bottleneck restricting regional development. According to the Asian Development Bank, by 2030, Asia will need 1.7 trillion US dollars infrastructure investment per year. Currently, it can receive over 800 billion US dollars annually, which is only filling half of the gap. The African Development Bank report also shows that in future, Africa will need 130 billion to 170 billion US dollars worth of infrastructure investment each year. Yet the current annual investment only fulfills less than 1/3 of the demand. Against such background, the BRI projects bring effective investment, valuable assets and much-needed development funds to the relevant countries, and help promote local economic growth and improvement of people's livelihood.

      As remarked by Chinese President Xi Jinping, "the BRI may be China's idea, but its opportunities and outcomes are going to benefit the world; China has no geopolitical calculations, seeks no exclusionary blocs and imposes no business deals on others". Facts have proven that over the past five years, there has been no attachment of political strings to BRI cooperation or any attempt to seek selfish political gains. Instead, the BRI is committed to further improving global supply, value and industry chains by strengthening the connectivity among countries, so that disadvantaged countries can better participate in the international division of labor and benefit more from global value chain in order to create greater momentum for their development and the world economic growth.

 

      Ladies and gentlemen,

      At present, the global economic and financial situation continues to evolve while protectionism and unilateralism are mounting, dealing a blow to the global economy and growth environment of the developing countries. Against such a backdrop, the BRI cooperation plays an increasingly positive role. Going forward, China will resolutely take solid steps to further implement the BRI. China stands ready to work with all countries including Indonesia to follow the principle of joint consultation and collaboration for shared benefits, further synergize development strategies, and jointly contribute to the common development and lasting prosperity of the region and beyond.

      In coming April, the 2nd Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation will be held in Beijing. We look forward to achieving more fruitful results that will elevate the BRI cooperation to new heights and deliver more opportunities and benefits to Indonesia and other BRI countries.

      To conclude, I wish this seminar a complete success, and I look forward to benefit from your insights.

      Thank you all. Terima kasih!

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