Jokowi to Meet Xi Jinping for Investment, South China Sea Talks
Jakarta. President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo on Thursday flew to Chengdu to meet his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, with talks on trade and investment likely to be high on the agenda.
Jokowi also plans to bring up the topic of the South China Sea. This highly contested body of water has become one of the primary concerns for ASEAN which Indonesia is chairing this year.
“The visit [to Chengdu] coincides with the 10th anniversary of the Indonesia-China comprehensive strategic partnership. China is Indonesia’s top investor and trading partner,” Jokowi said in Jakarta shortly before his flight.
“President Jinping and I will discuss a number of priority issues, including investment and our strategic projects. As well as on trade, healthcare, as well as regional and global matters,” Jokowi said.
Jokowi’s Chengdu trip includes meetings with the bosses of Chinese companies, namely those who have or are seeking to make an investment in Indonesia. “Particularly investment in industrial downstream, petrochemicals, renewable energy, and healthcare,” Jokowi said, while adding he would also push for talks on the electric vehicle (EV) ecosystem.
Commenting on the South China Sea, Jokowi said: “That is a topic that I would always raise in my meetings with President Jinping.”
Government data shows Indonesia-China trade stood at $133.7 billion in 2022. Bilateral trade amounted to $110 billion the previous year. China invested $8.2 billion last year, making it Indonesia’s second-largest foreign investor after Singapore. Beijing’s investment in Indonesia throughout the first six months of 2023 amounted to $3.8 billion.
Earlier this month, ASEAN chair Indonesia hosted a series of foreign ministerial meetings, among others, with China's Wang Yi. The ASEAN-China dialogue zeroed in on a code of conduct, a defined set of rules that could promote peace in the South China Sea.
The meeting resulted in a guideline that could help expedite negotiations for the code of conduct. China as well as four ASEAN members -- Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam -- have all laid overlapping claims to this strategic body of water.