Zhang Niansheng (The Jakarta Post)
Fri, September 30, 2022
Mid-September comes in Jakarta with muggy days and also a feeling of prosperity. Busy airports, heavy traffic, the hustle and bustle of well-decorated malls and bustling farmers markets. They all reflect the vitality of the Indonesian capital.
According to official statistics, Indonesia’s gross domestic product grew 5.44 percent year on year in the second quarter of this year, the fastest quarterly increase in recent years. A report released by the Asian Development Bank on Sept. 21 said the country’s economic growth could reach 5.4 percent this year and 5 percent in 2023. It shows that the Indonesian economy is on the way to full recovery.
Indonesian media have said that along with robust export performance, investments have also contributed to Indonesia’s economic growth.
China is one of the largest sources of investment in the Southeast Asian country.
A report by ASEAN Briefing found that China had maintained its place as Indonesia’s largest trading partner for nine years, and total trade between the two countries reached $124.3 billion last year. Mainland China’s investment in Indonesia reached $3.2 billion, making it the third-largest investor in Indonesia, behind only Singapore and China’s Hong Kong SAR.
The Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway is a flagship project of Sino-Indonesian cooperation. “Over 90 percent of the construction of the project has been completed, and we are confident that the railway will be put into operation next year as planned,” said Xin Xuezhong of China Railway.
With a speed of 350 kilometers per hour, the train will shorten the journey between the two Indonesian cities from more than three hours to around 40 minutes.
Thanks to the Belt and Road Initiative, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and other practical measures, Indonesia is seeing a rapid increase in projects invested by China.
According to Zhang Chaoyang, chairman of the China Chamber of Commerce in Indonesia and country manager of Bank of China’s Jakarta branch, the chamber has over 600 members, most of whom are involved in industrial investment.
Respondents from the Indonesian Legislature, the People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR), the Kijang Campus of Bina Nusantara University, the Tourism Confucius Institute of Udayana University and the Bali Branch of the Indonesia-China Friendship Association all recognized the development of Indonesian-Chinese relations and said they looked forward to the two countries further developing cooperation.
“Relations between Indonesia and China have never been better,” MPR deputy spokesman Lestari Moerdijat said.
As the two countries continue to deepen their economic and trade cooperation, they will experience a greater degree of economic complementarity.
China’s economic development in recent years, particularly rapid growth over the past decade, has made the country competitive in several fields, including electric vehicle (EV) manufacturing, high-speed train construction, mobile payments and energy plant construction.
A number of Chinese companies involved in the above industries have started operations in Indonesia, benefiting local communities. For example, a power plant built by China’s Huadian Engineering Co., Ltd. in Bali, Indonesia, has supplied more than 40 percent of the electricity consumed by the island’s 4 million residents since it opened in September 2015.
“The power plant will provide electricity for the G20 summit to be held in Bali this November,” said Chen Xiaoli, general energy director of Huadian Bali, who helped build the power plant.
Indonesia’s exports also meet Chinese market demand, such as oil products, minerals, palm oil and related products, rubber, plastic and timber.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has reiterated that China will only open its door wider to the world. This means more development opportunities for other developing countries, including Indonesia.
In the past 10 years, China has been actively working to change its opening-up pattern from one based on the flow of products and factors to one based on institutions and rules, in order to build a comprehensive and high-level open economy.
Since 2013, China has established 21 pilot free trade zones (FTZs). They have seen their successful practice in 278 cases of innovation in institutional reforms promoted at the national level. The number of entries on the national and FTZ blacklists has been reduced to 31 and 27, respectively.
In 2020, China ranked 31st out of 190 economies in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index, rising from 96th place in 2013 and becoming one of the fastest growing economies in the world.
Indonesia-China cooperation is mutually beneficial as it not only serves the two nations well but also contributes significantly to peace and development in the region and beyond, Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo said in Beijing this July .
President Jokowi, who has paid five visits to China, said Indonesia will work with China to further deepen its comprehensive strategic partnership and make even greater contributions to regional peace and global development.
The author is Head of the Asia Pacific Office people’s newspaper.