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PRESIDENT JOKOWI MEETS WITH PRESIDENT XI JINPING TO DISCUSS SOUTH CHINA SEA AND STRENGTHEN INDONESIA-CHINA TIES

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo embarked on an official visit to Chengdu, China, along with a limited entourage, to meet with China's President Xi Jinping.

31.07.2023
BY JEMMA UTOMO
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During their meeting, both leaders engaged in discussions on various important matters, including the South China Sea issue, investment, China-Indonesia strategic projects, and regional to global concerns.

The South China Sea has been a topic of significance in meetings between the two nations, and President Jokowi ensured that it would be addressed once again in this encounter. China's controversial "nine-dashed lines" claim, asserting sovereignty over nearly all of the South China Sea, was previously refuted in a 2016 Permanent Court of Arbitration decision. These lines cross the exclusive economic zones of multiple ASEAN countries, namely Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, and Indonesia. The contested region has been a source of tension between ASEAN and China, and recent maneuvers by China's patrol vessels in the area have provoked concerns from the Philippines and the United States.

In a recent ministerial meeting in Jakarta, ASEAN and China agreed to accelerate discussions in drafting a Code of Conduct (CoC) in the South China Sea. While the drafting process is expected to be a lengthy agenda, it is hoped that it will help mitigate the risk of conflicts in the region and foster better cooperation among the involved nations.

Apart from addressing regional issues, President Jokowi's visit also aimed to strengthen economic ties between China and Indonesia. He interacted with Chinese entrepreneurs who have invested and plan to invest in Indonesia, particularly in sectors such as downstream industries, petrochemicals, renewable energy, and health. Indonesia and China have enjoyed a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership for a decade, with China being Indonesia's largest trading partner. In 2022 alone, the bilateral trade volume between the two countries reached an impressive US$133.65 billion. Moreover, China stood as Indonesia's second-largest investor and even held the top position as an investor in the last quarter of the previous year.

The meeting between President Jokowi and President Xi Jinping marks another milestone in the ongoing efforts to address regional concerns while enhancing economic cooperation between Indonesia and China. The leaders' discussions on the South China Sea issue and various strategic projects serve to reinforce the bonds between the two nations, ensuring continued collaboration and mutual growth in the years to come.

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