Jakarta. President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo highlighted Indonesia's role in the ancient Silk Road trading route and urged other countries in the region join and play a part in China's new Belt and Road Initiative.
"I want to remind you all that in the centuries when the Silk Road first developed, Indonesia was known for its role as the 'Spice Islands,'" Jokowi said at the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing on Monday (15/05), as quoted in a statement issued by the Cabinet Secretariat.
He added that Indonesia, along with other Southeast Asian countries, should once again assume this important role, as suppliers of raw materials and natural resources for the production of goods and services in the rest of the world.
"I want to invite you all to build strong cooperation with us in Indonesia and Asean [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] to work with our raw materials and energy resources, so that together we can develop a chain of production along the Silk Road," Jokowi said.
The president was among 29 heads of state and the representatives of 130 countries attending the two-day forum, which started on Sunday. Discussions focused on China's New Silk Road trade project – an initiative to create new trading routes across parts of the developing world.
Jokowi was quoted as saying in his remarks during the forum that Indonesia is one of three countries that supply industrial raw materials, such as nickel, tin, copper and bauxite (aluminum ore).
He added that Southeast Asia boasts a wealth of affordable energy resources, such as geothermal, solar and hydropower.
Indonesia's participation in the forum focused on opportunities to speed up the country's infrastructure development and to increase cooperation and capacity-building.
Jokowi expressed optimism that the Belt and Road Initiative will result in the industrialization of many parts of the world, including in Africa, the Middle East and Asia, with the help of infrastructure development, to eradicate poverty.
"I appreciate this initiative, because it is a realistic one. It is not merely talk, but it is about actually building something. From ports to railways, these are industries we can see and touch. This is exactly the sort of courage and real action the world needs right now," he said.